Last night I took another tour of the Settlers Museum, having
been through a month ago while exhibition displays were being
populated, before the new foyer was completed.
The link to the Chinese Garden has yet to be made at the
south end of the old NZR building.
In the museum we have an impressive series of new and
refurbished spaces, the reading of which is generally low and
long, suited to the narrow site between the railway and State
Highway 1, and sympathetic to the immediate historic built
Looking out from the museum's new foyer, which takes evening
light amazingly well, across the traffic on SH1, there is old
Dunedin Prison (1898), Dunedin Law Courts (1902), Dunbar
House (former Dunedin Police Station, c.1895) and Leviathan
Hotel (known as 'Leviathan Railway Temperance Hotel' when
built in 1884).
This precinct flows into Anzac Square to the north, with
Dunedin Railway Station (1906); lower Stuart Street featuring
Law Courts Hotel (Auld Scotland Hotel was established on site
in 1863), and Allied Press Building (former Evening Star
Building, 1928); The Exchange area (old CBD); and Queens
Gardens and the warehouse district to the south.
I mention this unique 'cultural heritage landscape' of
buildings and green space because the impressive large-screen
video flyover provided at the museum, as I understand, by
Animation Research Ltd (ARL), shows exactly where the
proposed 27-storey hotel and apartment block at 41 Wharf
Street, if consented and constructed, will deliver
significant irreversible adverse effects in the neighbourhood
context - including for the Steamer Basin (see cruise
operations by MV Tiakina and MV Monarch) and Dunedin
Harbourside Historic Area (registered by New Zealand Historic
Places Trust in 2008); and the Burlington Street Historic
Area (registered in 1994), comprising Burlington St between
High St and Moray Place (captures First Church, Burns Hall,
Commerce Building, RSA Building, and Garrison Hall).
The adverse effects would be entirely due to the unwarranted
height and overbearing design of the proposed hotel and
The effects cannot be mitigated.
ARL should be asked to 'insert' the offending tower proposal
into the museum flyover to gauge public reaction.
Alternatively, for no cost, Dunedin residents can walk or
drive into the closed-off section of lower Rattray St beside
the old level crossing and the Chinese Garden and take a look
at the railway lighting tower.
This structure is approximately 35 metres in height. Imagine,
at this street location, the hotel bearing down on you from
97 metres above.
With this height comparison think what happens to your
enjoyment of the views,buildings and surroundings, together
with your experience of sun and wind (microclimate)... and
why for so many years Queen Elizabeth II Square in downtown
Auckland was unalterably inhospitable, it was a rare day if
anyone enjoyed lingering there before the Britomart Transport
Centre was developed.
We're not going to get a Britomart in Dunedin.
In terms of urban design, the proposed hotel and apartment
tower is going to sever and destroy the sense of place - and
your connection with the harbour edge, physically,
metaphorically, spiritually, tangibly and intangibly.
Without end, without moral or ethical consideration as posed
by the application documentation (no footbridge included).
And with the hearing committee taking that disingenuous path
of wanting more information from the applicant so to tick
boxes for consent to be granted.
The mayor has been lobbied by Betterways Advisory Ltd and
friends; the politics is thick with 'red carpet' and
promissories... as yet, there's nothing solid, concrete or
foundational in the appearance of the application. Is the
city council about to bind us with a badly scribbled note
Ode to a mocking tower, at 35 metres. If only it could speak.