Hotel plan decision to be delayed

The developers pushing to build a $100 million waterfront hotel in Dunedin have suggested a new deadline to decide their next move.

Betterways Advisory Ltd, which wants to build the five-star hotel at 41 Wharf St, has been engaged in behind-the-scenes talks since appealing a decision to decline resource consent last year.

Project developers Queenstown-based Jing Song and her husband Ping Cao, of China, had been expected to decide their next move after meeting Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull by the end of January.

However, the meeting had not taken place, and Betterways lawyer Phil Page yesterday suggested the company might wait until March before announcing how it would proceed.

Mr Page, in a memorandum to the Environment Court yesterday, said the developers hoped to report back to the court by March 28 about whether the hotel proposal would proceed.

The developers were still working with independent consultants to address the ''key issue'' of connection between the proposed hotel and the central business district, he said.

However, that work was not complete, and Mr Page said it was ''pointless'' to present a plan to the court before that work on the proposed hotel's connection to the city's CBD had been done.

''There are many good reasons why much of the ... work since lodging the appeal cannot be in the public realm. The project is of tremendous importance to Dunedin, whichever `camp' a party is in.

''If the appellant is required to focus on preparing evidence for the appeal now, it will have to abandon its examination of potentially valuable alternatives ... This is one of those cases in which haste might be later regretted.''

Mr Page yesterday said the proposal had not been accepted by the court, which would have to consult other parties.

If it was accepted, the timetable would allow Betterways more time to complete work continuing behind the scenes, the details of which could not yet be made public, he said.

''There are a few things we need to do in order to know what steps to take next.''

However, any decision not to proceed with the existing proposal might not be the end of the project, Mr Page said.

''There are other options to consider but that's for Jing and Ping to decide what they want to do,'' he said.


- This article originally said Environment Court mediation had started. It has now been changed to reflect the fact that mediation is yet to start.

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