Critics and backers of new ORC office

The Otago Regional Council proposal to build a $31 million office block on the harbourside drew criticism and encouragement yesterday.

A panel of councillors yesterday heard submissions to the draft long-term council community plan in Dunedin.

Alasdair Morrison, of Waitati, said he had opposed the building in the past and still believed the regional council did not need an "opulent and expensive" waterfront office building to carry out its functions.

The demolition of existing buildings, the intrusion into Dunedin's marine industry and the construction of a "grandiose" office building were not consistent with the reasons for the existence of the regional council, he said.

"The money which the ORC is contemplating spending on this edifice could be better spent in helping to achieve the aims of the ORC mission statement."

Peter Gale, of Dunedin, said the new council building had been "side-tracked" somewhat by the Awatea St stadium process, but now that had been put to the side, the public was taking a closer look and demanding accountability from the regional council.

He questioned whether the council needed to build on a prime harbourside site when there were other options.

In the absence of facts and sufficient public consultation, "anecdotes, rumour and emotion have bubbled to the surface".

There needed to be rigorous public consultation on the proposal, he said.

"The public deserve that."

Simon Gilmour, of High Tide Ltd, said he supported the redevelopment and urged the regional council to build its office block on the harbourside.

"It is a site we believe to be highly appropriate."

High Tide restaurant had existed in Kitchener St for 22 years and, in that time, industrial activity had not impinged on the restaurant's operation, he said.

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