Businesses taken by surprise

Business owners on the block north of Cadbury were blindsided by yesterday’s announcement they would have to move to make room for Dunedin’s new hospital.

Several occupants of the block bordered by Cumberland, Castle, St Andrew and Hanover Sts told the Otago Daily Times the first they learned of the Government’s plans was in the ODT yesterday morning.

Warwick Mason
Warwick Mason
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan was disappointed by the short notice given to business owners.

"That would be a shock to a number of people."

While it was "great" to finally have certainty over the site, the sudden announcement created "tremendous uncertainty," he said.

He could understand the decision by Mondelez to close Cadbury World, but he hoped the future for affected businesses in the block involved relocation, rather than closure.

"It’s always going to be really difficult if people are losing jobs."

Midas owner Warwick Mason had occupied his Castle St garage for about 30 years. He was pleased Dunedin would be getting a new hospital, but was surprised and saddened by yesterday’s news he would have to move on.

"The first we’ve heard of it was this morning."

He said he would sorely miss the Castle St site.

"You become part of the fabric of the area."

He questioned why the Southern Partnership Group did not choose the block opposite his business, bordered by Castle and Leith Sts, and occupied by the Dunedin City Fire Station and Dunedin Energy Centre, among other businesses.

He said his block had many active and successful businesses, while the block opposite represented Dunedin’s past.

The Dunedin Energy Centre, with its four coal-fired steam boilers, employed an outdated technology that should be consigned to history, he said.

Midas mechanic Daniel Ryan did not mince words when asked for his thoughts on the choice of site.

"Well, it’s going to p. . .  a lot of people off."

His preference was expanding on the Wakari hospital site. Dunedin landlord Ron Wade owns the Beaurepaires building at 420 Cumberland St.

While the announcement of the new hospital was "great news for Dunedin and the health sector", he was concerned for his long-standing tenants.

Even Wilson Group, owner of the large parking building on the block which also housed the Otago Polytechnic’s Cumberland campus and the Ministry of Social Development, was in the dark about its property being used until yesterday,  spokeswoman Anne-Marie Petersen said.

The block also includes an Aurora Energy electrical substation. Aurora Energy head of external relations Gary Johnson said it would need to shift the substation, which supplies electricity for about 1400 of its central city customers.

Aurora was "advised prior to announcement of the potential impact on our substation if the site was chosen".


Securing the land

Under the Public Works Act 1981 the Crown can acquire land by agreement or compulsorily.

Where land is compulsorily acquired, the landowner is required to be compensated.

The Act requires landowners to be treated fairly.

There will be little change for affected Dunedin businesses for some time yet, as there is still a lot to do before construction begins.

The Ministry of Health will buy the land, using the Land Information New Zealand (Linz) process under the Act.

A Linz-accredited agent is required to prepare the necessary reports, assist with the negotiation for the land and ensure the compensation negotiated is fair both to the landowner and the Crown.

The ministry has engaged The Property Group to do this work.

The Property Group assisted the Crown with many of the land acquisitions in Christchurch following the earthquakes.

The Ministers of Health and Finance approve the funding for the purchase, while Linz approves the acquisition of the site.

The site across St Andrew St from Cadbury, which contains the Wilson's car park, has eight owners and it may take a bit longer to buy all the properties.

If agreements are unable to be reached, it generally takes at least six to 12 months to compulsorily acquire land.

This does not include a landowner using their right of objection to the Environment Court, where their land is compulsorily acquired.

The right of objection relates to the taking of the land, not to the amount of compensation payable.

In the event of objections, this timeframe would be extended further - acquisition could take up to three years.

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The size of the new hospital in such a dense CBD location is going to have ‘casualties’ and no matter which location they chose, it would have affected someone.
They had a tough decision, but when you look at the alternative blocks, the fact half the hospital is on the closed Cadbury site, and probably a quarter of the other block is car park land, the site they’ve chosen is the least disruptive.
However, it is sad for the actual businesses that are affected. But out of disruption comes opportunity and change - so after the grief of losing their long established locations, these businesses could take this as an opportunity and benefit from this.

along time coming great news