April deadline for talks

The Environment Court has given the developers of Dunedin's proposed waterfront hotel until the end of April to conclude talks with the Dunedin City Council.

It has also ordered developers Betterways Ltd to advise the other parties involved, including hotel opponent Capri Enterprises Ltd, and the court whether it is prepared to discuss the issue of the hotel's height in mediation.

Betterways has appealed against the council's 2013 decision not to grant resource consent for the 27-storey, $100 million hotel, but the appeal is on hold while talks with the council continue.

The talks cover connections across arterial roads and railway lines from the proposed hotel to the city centre.

Capri last month sought direction from the court on any potential mediation, saying it believed it would only have some purpose if the developers were prepared to discuss the hotel's height.

Betterways told the court the ''key issue'' remained connectivity between the proposed hotel and the central business district, and company director Jing Song recently appeared to step back from an earlier offer to compromise on the hotel's height, telling the Otago Daily Times there were no alternative plans on the table.

Betterways had requested the court give it until March 28 to announce its next move.

A minute issued by Judge Jon Jackson late last week directed Betterways to report to the court by the end of April and indicate if it was willing to discuss the height in mediation.

It noted Capri's position that any connections from the proposed hotel to the CBD would need further resource consents and thus were not the subject of this proceeding.

Christchurch barrister John Hardie represents Capri Enterprises Ltd, whose sole director is the chairman of Scenic Circle Hotels, Earl Hagaman.

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