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The battle for Dunedin's waterfront is to resume as Port Otago calls for the city's harbourside zone to be expanded.
The suggestion - to be considered at this week's second generation district plan (2GP) hearings - is that the harbourside's mixed-use rules be extended to cover part of Fryatt St, on the north side of Steamer Basin. That would pave the way for the redevelopment of Port Otago's empty Fryatt St sheds, Port Otago chief executive Geoff Plunkett said.
The suggestion was among three from major players with a stake in the waterfront's future, which together could dramatically reshape the area.
The University of Otago has also called for a 16m building height restriction to be lifted to 20m, to accommodate mooted plans for a public aquarium on the waterfront.
And the Otago Regional Council argued against new restrictions on office buildings south of Steamer Basin, where it had long been considering building its new headquarters.
The ORC had finally opted for the Dowling St car park as its preferred site for the headquarters earlier this year, but the move potentially opened up its waterfront location for another development.
All three proposals would be considered when the 2GP hearing panel listened to submissions on the city's commercial and mixed use zone rules,
Mr Plunkett said yesterday the 2GP's harbourside rules were "unnecessarily restrictive'' and needed to be eased.
Expanding the zone to include the company's Fryatt St sheds would encourage their redevelopment, although exactly what form that could take was not yet clear, he said.
"We're keen to see redevelopment . . . but we don't necessarily see ourselves as the developer.
"If you don't include them [Fryatt St sheds] in the harbourside zone, what are you going to do with those wharf sheds? That's the issue, I think.''
Port Otago had no plans to redevelop the sheds itself, as they were "old'', unsuitable and no longer required by the company, Mr Plunkett said.
The northern side of Steamer Basin was also not as sunny as the southern side, and its water views less impressive, making it less attractive for any residential apartment-style development, he said.
But the site could be suitable for a restaurant or other development, including the university's suggested aquarium, he said.
Such a development would not have the potential for conflict over noise with industrial neighbours, he believed.The arguments did not sway Dunedin City Council planner Emma Christmas, who, in a report to the hearings panel, said extending the harbourside zone to include Fryatt St could threaten the vibrancy of the CBD.
Mr Plunkett respected that concern but said the redevelopment of Dunedin's waterfront would "not happen overnight''.
"We do see it as a very long-term project, because Dunedin's a smaller city, but if you look round the world, cities have expanded down to their harbours.''
The fresh development push comes four years after a scaled-back harbourside vision, concentrated south of Steamer Basin, was signed off in 2012. That followed a long-running battle over a more extensive zone covering both sides of Steamer Basin which ended up in the Environment Court.
Dunedin City Council city development manager Anna Johnson, contacted yesterday, did not want to debate Mr Plunkett's views before this week's hearing. However, she stressed the 2GP's new rules were similar to those already in place for the harbourside zone, as both envisaged redevelopment occurring in stages.
The change under 2GP was a switch to a simplified "harbourside edge'' zone covering the southern edge of Steamer Basin, catering for mixed-use development.
A new transitional zone would cover the area inland from Birch and Kitchener Sts, which would remain zoned for industrial use until 70% of the harbourside edge had been redeveloped. That was designed to smooth the transition to non-industrial uses over time, but the ORC, in its submission, argued industrial neighbours could discourage redevelopment along the waterfront.
Mr Plunkett was also concerned the 2GP placed new restrictions on office developments in the area, depending on whether they were deemed to be more suited to the CBD.
Ms Christmas recommended reinstating provision for up to 3000sq m of office space in the harbourside edge zone, but not extending the zone to Fryatt St.