Council delegation to meet opponents

A delegation from the Dunedin City Council will meet businesses opposed to the council's harbourside development, in an effort to avoid a court battle.

Cr Colin Weatherall, briefing councillors yesterday, said the group he headed would be meeting all parties opposed to the harbourside plan change, individually or in groups, in the coming weeks.

The move comes after the Otago Chamber of Commerce and five companies launched an Environment Court challenge to the council's district plan change, which was approved last year and allowed rezoning of part of the harbourside area for cafes, restaurants and apartments.

It also followed last week's submission by the chamber, which represented 1500 businesses across Otago, opposing the council's plan change.

The submission was watched by 35 representatives from about 100 harbourside businesses.

Yesterday, Cr Weatherall said two court dates, June 15 and 22, had already been set aside for mediation, with a court mediator present, but the talks with parties would take place prior to the formal sessions.

It was hoped the talks would allow greater understanding of the reasons for the businesses' opposition, and that Environment Court action could be avoided, he said.

For example, the council wanted to hear more detail about how the plan change impacted on businesses' hopes for expansion in the area over the next 10-20 years, he said.

Cr Weatherall said the council delegation was adding the new phase in the formal process "in good faith", and went into the talks with the desire to reach a resolution, although the "same expectation" applied to the parties to be spoken to.


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