Traffic problems at hotel

A view along Harrop St showing the proposed five-star hotel.
A view along Harrop St showing the proposed five-star hotel.

Plans for a five-star hotel tower in Dunedin are ''fatally flawed'' because of traffic problems on the site, a resource consent hearing has been told.

However, the man behind the project, Tekapo businessman Anthony Tosswill, is vowing to hit back at the claims.

The evidence against the project came from transport engineer Andy Carr, as two rival hotel chains lined up to oppose the project yesterday.

Mr Carr, appearing as an expert witness for Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, which opposed the Moray Pl development, told the hearing the developers faced a series of insurmountable traffic problems.

The hurdles stemmed from the site's steep gradient, which meant buses and service vehicles negotiating a road and ramps at the site would get stuck or risk tipping over, he said.

Asked by independent commissioner Stephen Daysh if the design problems were fatal flaws, Mr Carr said ''in this case, yes''.

''It's the first time I have said it in 10 years of hearings. Yes, these are fatal flaws,'' Mr Carr said.

The hotel's design envisaged three 17-storey towers connected in a pinwheel shape, surrounded by a road providing access to the hotel's reception area, car parking and a service bay.

Mr Carr said the problem was the proposed road, the topography of which would rise and then fall sharply as vehicles made their way around it.

The gradient would go beyond design standards in three places, meaning heavy vehicles would scrape the ground or get stuck, he said.

Trucks trying to reach the planned service bay would have to drive across a steep gradient, beyond design standards, creating a ''significant risk of that truck actually toppling over'', he said.

A ramp needed to reach underground car parking would also be ''far too steep'', and a redesign would also leave heavy vehicles to cross a steep gradient, creating another toppling risk, he said.

There was even a suggestion buses would strike the building while negotiating the road, he said.

Mr Tosswill's team was yet to detail any response to the challenges, leaving Mr Carr with only one conclusion.

''We don't have a viable transportation solution that's been presented,'' he said.

Mr Tosswill, approached after yesterday's session, indicated his team was preparing a response to be presented as soon as today.

The concerns came as lawyers for two companies linked to rival hotel operations submitted detailed legal and planning arguments against Mr Tosswill's hotel development yesterday.

Lauren Semple, a lawyer acting for Millennium & Copthorne, was joined by Mr Carr and two other expert witnesses in opposition to the project yesterday.

Millennium & Copthorne owns the Kingsgate Hotel, beside the proposed hotel development, and the company's concerns included the impact of shading on the established hotel.

Also appearing yesterday was Christchurch barrister John Hardie, for Misbeary Holdings Ltd, whose directors include Scenic Hotel Group director Lani Hagaman.

Misbeary Holdings Ltd also owns residential properties in the area.

Mr Hardie, arguing against the development, also drew a parallel with the previous failed bid to build a 27-storey hotel on Dunedin's waterfront, put forward by Jing Song, of Betterways Advisory Ltd.

Mr Hardie had argued against that hotel as well, on behalf of Capri Enterprises Ltd, which at the time listed the late Earl Hagaman, also of the Scenic Hotel Group, as its sole director.

Dunedin lawyer Phil Page, now representing Mr Tosswill, also represented Ms Song during her failed bid.

Yesterday, Mr Hardie said Mr Page appeared to have learnt nothing from the previous failed bid, despite assurances to the contrary.

Betterways' tower had involved an ''enormous'' breach of district plan height rules, ''and we have got the same problem presented here''.

''Another tall architectural statement which simply has too many effects,'' he said.

The hearing continues today.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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