Opinion: Does Dunedin want to scare off developers?

As a professional couple living in London considering moving back to our home town of Dunedin, it really worries us to see the attitude people in the city display towards development.

Our hope was to move back to Dunedin to continue to grow an existing business that could create jobs in the area.

Unfortunately, however, we are constantly being made to feel very nervous at the prospect of doing this due to an apparently anti-development attitude in the community.

Many residents seem to have this romantic notion that they can pick and choose who invests in their town, and then tell those investors what they are going to do with their money.

The reality is if you say no to private investment Dunedin is on the fast track to dropping off the map completely. Investors will go to another city in a heartbeat.

Don't get me wrong - I don't feel particularly strongly for or against this hotel.

However, it seems to me too many people in Dunedin look at how development will affect them personally rather than what is best for the city as a whole.

Numerous opinions I've read from residents highlight that too many people are opposed to this hotel because it blocks their personal view of the harbour (which I doubt it will do) or because it will create shade for them in their nearby office.

The answer to this simple: that's of no consequence.

You live in a city, and in cities buildings get built and things change and grow.

Developers cannot take into account the sensitivities of every citizen who lives in the area.

If a proposal creates good outcomes for the city, such as improving its status amongst travellers and creating jobs for locals, that overrides the personal inconvenience of some individuals.

If it does not provide good outcomes for the city, there is a basis to resisting the development.

The irony is the economic strategy recently completed by the DCC continually points out that for Dunedin to survive commercially it must welcome and embrace foreign investment and new businesses, yet the first major one that comes along sees the city push them away again.

The reality is the town needs to open its mind to these sorts of things, stop resisting every new development and stop seeing them as somehow diminishing the history of the place.

I've travelled all over the world, and wherever you go the best cities are those with a mixture of old and new architecture.

Cities with true heritage going back hundreds and hundreds of years embrace change and development. Why do some in Dunedin think their heritage is somehow superior and we must never have anything built around these heritage buildings?

Please, remember the bigger picture here, Dunedin. This isn't just about this hotel. It's about the message we are giving to other potential developers.

Do you want Dunedin to be the only place in NZ which has closed its door to this sort of thing, and slowly but surely loses further ground to other centres?

Or do you want to embrace change and start moving forwards again, the way those who originally built the city did?



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