Tosswill appeals hotel decision

Anthony Tosswill
The man behind Dunedin's latest five-star hotel bid is vowing to fight and will appeal the decision to decline consent for his project.

Tekapo businessman Anthony Tosswill had earlier ruled out an Environment Court appeal, after a panel of independent commissioners rejected his plan for a 17-storey hotel and apartment tower late last month.

However, speaking late yesterday afternoon, Mr Tosswill said he had changed his mind and would lodge an appeal within days.

The aim was to see if parties could reach an agreement on a revised design which lowered the building to 12 storeys above ground, through Environment Court mediation, he said.

His decision came despite the lengthy process to date, stretching back two years, which had left Mr Tosswill with a bill already ''well above'' $300,000, he said.

Mr Tosswill said he was not prepared to give up just yet.

''What we are not doing is letting this drop, and I won't go away,'' he said.

He took issue with the panel's decision to focus on shading impacts on the nearby Kingsgate, and also the ability of two commercial rivals to influence the outcome.

''The more I find out about the process and the manner of the hearing, the more I get annoyed about it and the more frustrated I get,'' Mr Tosswill said yesterday.

''It's starting to, quite frankly, annoy me.''

Millennium & Copthorne, which owns the Kingsgate Hotel, and Misbeary Holdings Ltd, which listed Lani Hagaman, of the Scenic Circle Group, as a director, had both sent lawyers to argue against the development.

Mr Tosswill said the panel had allowed competing ''commercial interests'' to restrict the growth of Dunedin.

''To me, that's wrong. That's just plain, outright wrong.''

The hotel's revised design had already been presented during the consent hearing, but the panel had decided it could consider only the original application, which envisaged a 17-storey building.

Mr Tosswill said the revised design addressed the concerns raised by independent experts, and he was surprised the panel had opted to overlook the changes.

He hoped court mediation could reach an agreement between parties, although the competing commercial interests could stand in the way of that as well.

A fresh consent application for the revised design could also be submitted, if mediation failed.

''I only want to spend the money, after all I've spent, if it's a necessary spend,'' Mr Tosswill said.

Andrew Noone, chairman of the independent panel which rejected consent, said it would be inappropriate to comment on the appeal.

''He's exercising his right to appeal. That's the process, so it's totally inappropriate for me to comment because the appeal has been lodged.''

Mr Tosswill's announcement came two years after talks between him and council representatives began, leading to a consent application filed in April.

The hotel, to be built on the Filleul St car park site opposite the Dunedin Town Hall, was deemed non-complying under district plan rules and attracted 271 submitters, including 206 opposed to it.

The panel, in rejecting consent, cited ''significant'' concerns, including height and visual dominance, which would see the building towering over neighbouring heritage buildings and casting a midwinter shadow over the Octagon and Kingsgate.

Mr Tosswill has until October 19 to lodge his appeal.


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Keep going Anthony, I hope you get there

Dunedin badly needs a development like this. This will help increase tourism to the city and with the hotel smack bang in the middle of the cbd, boost the cash flow of a lot of businesses. Hell if this hotel existed a few years ago Dunedin would probably have got a Lions test.
Sure I understand objections based on the proposed height and you have to wonder if the Hotel height was reduced to a maximum of 10 - 12 stories if this would increase the chances of it getting the green light.

Strange decision, but then it not his money he's spending. We citizens pay with our rates and taxes. He simply cannot accept that it does not comply. Commercial rivals are only a part of the problem as outlined in the independent commissioners report.

What has a Lions Test got to do with anything? Thousands of tourists come from around the world to see our unique city. They don't photograph glass accommodation! They have plenty of that at home.

Footie, Nash. Footie opens doors.

Mr Tosswill, before you commit more time and money (including public money) to this project, please find out whether you are able to submit a new design during mediation preceding an environment court hearing; or whether you can only appeal on the design you have submitted so far. Remember your initial proposal doesn't comply with the district plan's requirement on many more matters besides its height. Because all submitters to the lower court are entitled to be heard in subsequent jurisdictions, it seems unlikely that you could receive planning approval for a design that is non-compliant in any way, and to which objections have been heard and noted, in mediation. You have referred to the support you're receiving on blog-sites. Please, their contributors may know too little about Dunedin's district plan to be good advisors. Read the submissions made to the lower court. They will be a better guide.

Dunedin can not keep on discouraging modernity on the ground it conflicts with its heritage identity or is too high. Urban development means there will be shadowed areas. Those who cant stand city canyons should move to the suburbs or go rural.

'Commercial rivals' are just as entitled as anyone else to employ professionals to make a case why a development might not comply with the District Plan or be good for the city. It's only when commercial rivals try to make an argument that the proposed new development would be bad for their business and declined on those grounds that they are crossing the line - as if experienced planning commissioners, like Andrew Noone, wouldn't know.

Why can't Anthony Tosswill give up on this project? Dunedin does not need an oversized glass box in its CBD. I've had a close connection with Dunedin for 26 years and I can judge it from the perspective of both tourist and resident. Having escaped the downfall of Sydney I can say it will be a huge mistake for Dunedin to aspire to become just another big congested modern city on the overcrowded world stage. Bigger is not better when it comes to urban liveability. Those who hunger for the glass & concrete jungle should move to one of the innumerable cloned examples of that style and leave Dunedin to try a better approach - this city can maintain liveability by preserving its modest size and generally low rise scale, embracing, renovating, repurposing and promoting its better heritage buildings. Plenty of jobs to be had in that plan, and far better tourist appeal in characterful accommodation buildings (King Edward Court surely has good potential) and an urban landscape that treasures its heritage values.

What is the point of having a district plan?

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