The New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Building on the corner
of Thomas Burns, Willis and Fryatt Sts. Photo by Peter
A developer hoping to breathe new life into an historic
Dunedin building has slammed the Dunedin City Council after a
planner recommended his resource consent application be
New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Building owner Russell Lund
said he was ''staggered'' planners opposed his plan to
restore the category two, 1872 building and redevelop the
second floor into a 24-unit apartment complex.
His comments came after council planner Daryl Sycamore
recommended the hearings committee decline a resource consent
application for the project.
His recommendation was largely due to ''reverse sensitivity''
issues, which centred on concern apartment residents could
complain to the council about noise from existing industry in
the area, potentially threatening the viability of businesses
in what was a non-residential (Port 2) zone.
Mr Sycamore did leave it open for the hearings committee to
approve the application, if it was ''satisfied with respect
to the reverse sensitivity issues''.
Mr Lund slammed Mr Sycamore's report, accusing him of basing
his recommendation on personal opinion rather than legal
As a way of mitigating concern about noise the developers had
proposed a ''no complaints covenant'', which would prevent it
and residents from making complaints about noise.
Mr Lund found it ''inexplicable'' that Mr Sycamore accepted
the courts gave ''clear direction'' that such covenants could
resolve reverse sensitivity issues.
''His biggest reason for turning it down [appears to be] that
he simply doesn't like covenants. To me it is inexplicable
that they think they have a right to second-guess the
''The planners appear to be having a dollar each way; they
are saying 'We are going to decline it, but just in case you
want to accept it here are a detailed list of conditions that
we think you should impose'.''
If the hearings committee followed the recommendation, he
could not see another viable use for the building.
''We have already invested a great deal of time and money to
get to this stage and if it is rejected we would ... be
He accepted Mr Sycamore left it open for the hearings
committee, which is holding a consent hearing next week, to
approve the consent.
''There is wriggle room there, but it raises the hurdle
significantly higher for us to cross.''
None of the extra consent conditions recommended by Mr
Sycamore were ''deal breakers'', but Mr Lund disputed the
need for mechanical ventilation - which was suggested as a
way of mitigating possible noise issues caused by residents
leaving windows open to ventilate their apartments.
He believed the noise was not as bad as suggested by
submitters opposed to the consent, which included Kaan's
Catering Supplies Ltd and Farra Engineering Ltd.
''I've actually spent some nights in the building over the
last couple of months to test that theory and there have been
no issues whatsoever.''
In the report Mr Sycamore said the issue of reverse
sensitivity was a ''key determinant in whether the committee
approve this application''.
He noted his ''personal'' dislike of no complaints covenants,
calling them a ''blunt instrument'' and ''not a suitable
mechanism to address effects as residents will continue to be
exposed to nuisance with no opportunity for redress''.
He said the DCC environmental health department's concern,
based on noise monitoring in the area, was over ''sporadic
loud'' noises at night, such as train shunting, which could
wake and annoy residents.
''Irrespective of the [sound-proofing proposed], considered
siting of the ventilation intakes and a no complaint
covenant, it is my opinion that noise in some capacity may
remain a nuisance,'' Mr Sycamore said.
Despite recommending against the resource consent, he noted
many positives about the proposed development, saying as it
was on the edge of the Port 2 zone it would not set a
precedent for further residential developments.
Redevelopment would also be good for both the building and
''The works would likely be a catalyst for further
development and create vibrancy in the harbour area.''
He accepted the opinion of a council ''heritage policy
analyst'' it would be difficult to ''identify a financially
viable alternative'' if the consent was declined.