would-be developer of a historic Dunedin warehouse has
threatened to try to demolish the building if he is not
granted consent to convert part of it into apartments.
But an international steel manufacturer based next to the
building says if consent is given for the 24 apartments, the
result could be the closure of the foundry and the loss of 39
A Dunedin City Council panel yesterday started considering an
application from Russell Lund to convert the top floor of the
Loan and Mercantile building, in the city's industrial
More submissions on the negative impact of residential
encroachment on the industrial area are expected from other
businesses and the Otago Chamber of Commerce today, as the
During the 90-minute delivery of his submission - to Crs
Andrew Noone, David Benson-Pope and Lee Vandervis - developer
Mr Lund referenced Richard Nixon and the Bible, called the
Chamber of Commerce, which opposes his plans, ''a disgrace'',
and made emotional statements about the national significance
of the building and the financial commitment he had made to
it to date.
He would reluctantly accept consent conditions of a ''no
complaints covenant'' on the apartments' titles and
mechanical ventilation, so residents could close windows and
still have air circulating, as ways to manage potential
issues with noise - the fundamental concern of city planners
and submitters who opposed his plans.
But Mr Lund reminded the panel he had a legal right to make a
viable income from his building.
''To make this 100% clear: if this application is declined, I
could seek, via the courts, to have this fabulous (DCC's
term) building demolished the very next day, and without
doubt, whatsoever, consent would be granted,'' he wrote in
his submission, which he read to the panel.
''Our application would be very brief,'' Mr Lund said.
''... the council in the planning report have made our case
for us by confirming the building has been empty for 40 years
and functionally obsolete and there is no other viable
''We have no doubt the courts would reserve some harsh
judgement to a council that ... (in a council minute)
confirmed the building was obsolete and that the owner should
be accorded special assistance to find a use for the
building, then when the owner sought consent for a viable
economic use - declined it.''
He gave the example of the category 2 listed Ashburton
Railway Station, which was demolished when earthquake
strengthening became uneconomic and there was no viable use
to justify the spending.
''We want to reuse this building and see it preserved, but we
can't do that if it's going to sit there without financial
support, there's no other viable economic use, so why should
I pay $50,000 a year for a building (on rates, insurance etc)
that won't be used?''
In contrast, Esco Dunedin site manager Dean Taig told the
panel if the apartments were allowed next door he would have
''grave concerns'' for the future of the foundry which
employed 39 people and had plans to employ 100 people.
He was aware of problems residents could cause in industrial
In Brisbane, 69 people lost their jobs last year after the
Esco foundry closed.
It was closed largely because the company could no longer
afford to continue investing in the plant to manage its
effects following noise and odour complaints and issues
resulting from nearby residential developments.
The company's Portland operation recently announced it was
partially closing because of extra resources needed to
operate a foundry in a shared location between industrial and
residential areas, he said.
Esco counsel Daniel Clay said all port and industrial
activities in the area would likely have to spend significant
amounts to mitigate their currently acceptable environmental
A no-noise covenant would not suffice because it was not
practical to enforce, required intensive management, and
others might complain on behalf of residents.
Most importantly, the existence of residents in the area
would skew the subjective assessment of what sort of noise
and other emissions were acceptable, ratcheting standards
higher at the expense of businesses.
Co-locating industrial and residential growth impacted on
industrial activities, he said ''This was the very concern
identified in the Harbourside Plan Change, and [Mr Lund's]
application crystallises the issues and concerns raised in
that process, which resulted in the withdrawal of the plan
Esco was also concerned about the effect on the area of more
traffic, and precedents, though Mr Lund had earlier said it
was not reasonable to expect him to provide more parks than
required for the development or to resolve other businesses'
No precedent would be set as the council had already
acknowledged the building was unique and in a unique
location, he said.