Site 'deserves better' than hotel design

Dunedin deserves better than the design of a 28-storey, $100 million hotel being suggested for the city's waterfront, a heritage building owner says.

The rebuke came from Ted Daniels, owner of two Dunedin heritage buildings, on the seventh day of a resource consent hearing that will decide the fate of the hotel proposed by Betterways Advisory Ltd.

Mr Daniels, the last member of the public to address the hearing, yesterday urged the developers to ''think outside the square''.

He was not against the hotel at 41 Wharf St, but opposed its design, believing the prominent waterfront location demanded better.

The hotel's size and location would make it a landmark building in the city. He presented the committee images showing landmark buildings around the world, then criticised the hotel's glass-box design as ''from the 1950s or 1970s''.

''If we build the wrong building, people will be saying for the next 100 years, 'how the hell did it get built?'

''I think Dunedin deserves a better building as a landmark building,'' he said.

There would always be opposition, as shown by the initial outcry over the Sydney Opera House, but Dunedin's waterfront hotel design ''I don't think has anything to go for it''.

''It's just a shame,'' he said.

Mr Daniels was among many submitters to criticise the hotel's design during the public hearing, which spanned four days from December 3 and continued this week.

However, a council planner's report - recommending consent be declined - has also suggested the design be referred to an expert panel for approval, should the committee decide to grant consent anyway.

The hearing adjourned at the end of yesterday's session and will resume in February to consider more information and closing arguments from the applicant, Betterways Advisory Ltd, and council staff.

Yesterday, the committee also heard technical evidence confirming the hotel would make the surrounding area windier in some places, and more sheltered in others, while traffic issues could be overcome.

Opus International Consultants aerodynamics research leader Neil Jamieson, of Wellington, appearing for Betterways, said wind striking a building could accelerate around corners or downwards.

That meant more wind for pedestrians in some areas, but a building's mass could also provide shelter in other areas.

Dunedin's new hotel would be most susceptible to winds from the northeast or east, or from the southwest or west, he said.

A southwest wind could turn the southwest corner of the hotel into a ''very windy area'', with effects from either end of the hotel extending to the Customhouse Restaurant and Gen-i buildings and beyond.

The hotel's bulk would provide ''significant shelter'' to the hotel entrance and nearby pedestrian areas on the eastern side, but there was likely to be an overall deterioration in wind conditions for pedestrians.

Cyclists using the nearby cycleway could also expect ''a few surprises'' from changing wind speeds as a result of the hotel's presence, ''but [the wind] is not likely to blow them off their bikes'', he said.

Dunedin's district plan did not set rules for wind from new buildings, but Mr Jamieson suggested a wind tunnel study could determine the magnitude of the likely changes.

Betterways could also be instructed to offer glass barriers or other solutions to neighbours if consent was granted, he said.

Yesterday's session also heard detailed discussion of possible traffic issues in the area by Betterways' consultant transport engineer, Andrew Carr, and the council's consultant transportation planner, Ian Clark.

The pair prepared a joint statement after disagreeing earlier in the hearing about traffic problems at the Birch St-Wharf St intersection and the hotel's proposed vehicle exit to Wharf St.

Yesterday, after fresh traffic modelling, they confirmed vehicles performing U-turns at the Birch St-Wharf St intersection - including guests overshooting the hotel from the north - could cause vehicle queues to form, but only for short periods.

Mr Clark said there was room to make the area a two-lane road, allowing traffic to turn with disruption, but Mr Carr believed the situation should be monitored and action taken only if needed.

Vehicle queues could also form at the hotel's exit, but only for brief periods at peak times, and the exit would ''generally operate satisfactorily''.

There was also enough room for vehicles approaching from the south to slow and enter the hotel, while following vehicles passed to their right, Mr Carr said.

Mr Clark said the ''major'' challenge remained ensuring guests could safely cross the busy Wharf St to the waterfront, as modelling showed a crossing with signals in the area would not work.

However, Mr Carr said there was already a crossing just south of the Thomas Burns St roundabout, and more could follow, as the area developed.

Committee chairman Cr Colin Weatherall adjourned the hearing yesterday afternoon for a series of site visits, but said it was due to reconvene on February 18-20 unless another date was required.

In the meantime, committee members would consider ''where to from here'', including what further information was needed for a ''quality decision'', he said.


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