Aucklander to carry out peer review

The Dunedin City Council has appointed an Auckland associate professor to carry out a peer review of its $47 million proposal to redevelop the Dunedin Centre.

Dr Diane Brand, from Auckland University's school of architecture and urban design, has been given until May to produce a report on the redevelopment, which includes a controversial glass atrium in Harrop St.

Announcing the appointment yesterday, council general manager strategy and development Kate Styles said Dr Brand would pay ‘‘particular attention'' to the impact of the Harrop St and Moray Pl additions and the ‘‘urban design impacts of the project''.

‘‘An independent peer review was especially important given the considerable public interest in this project.''

The call for a peer review arose at the February 11 meeting of the council, when it decided to include ‘‘option 12a'' of the redevelopment in the draft annual plan.

Cr Richard Walls believed it would take away much of the criticism the council had received over the plan to add the atrium in Harrop St.

Barbara Brinsley, of the Hands off Harrop group, believed the idea for a peer review was a good one but its value would depend on what brief Dr Brand was given.

Architect Ted McCoy, a member of the group, noted that it would be the council paying Ms Brand's expenses and fee and all the Harrop group could hope was that she would be ‘‘totally unbiased in her view''.

However, Mr McCoy could see ‘‘no possible compromise whatever'' over building in Harrop St.

‘‘The Harrop group is quite adamant on the fact that Harrop St should never have been considered right from the beginning. That was the one big mistake right at the start.''

He said a peer review was ‘‘one person's opinion''.

Dr Brand has taught architecture and urban design in Auckland since 1994 and spent 10 years overseas, studying at Harvard and working in Australia.

A ‘‘conservation report'' for the Town Hall would also be carried out before the end of May.

Ms Styles said a consultant's ‘‘public drawings'' of option 12a, including an artist's impression, should be available in about two weeks.

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