Consent for info centre conditional

Independent commissioner Denis Nugent has backed his interim decision granting resource consent for the proposed $1.3 million Cromwell information centre.

However, appeals could still be made to the Environment Court.

The Central Otago District Council had applied to itself for consent to build a visitor and information centre that breaches the minimum floor area for the business area, the maximum building height and the total area of signs allowed per site.

When Mr Nugent heard the application in August last year, there were eight submissions - three opposed, three in support and two neutral.

At least one of them, Cromwell Mini Golf owner Shona Rae, is still to decide whether she will appeal to the Environment Court. She said she was still not happy about the proposed centre.

''I find it very difficult ... to see how they can justify spending that much money.

''It's a heck of a lot of money in these times of financial constraint and they really haven't proved to the community that it's needed.''

The proposed visitor information centre, intended as a replacement for the current centre which is combined with the town's museum in The Mall, is to be built between Murray Tce and State Highway 8B, near the fruit sculpture and Mrs Rae's business.

Another submitter, businessman Gary Anderson, said he would not appeal but agreed with Mrs Rae on the cost issue.

''I just hope they've done their costings for the ongoing running of the thing.

''If you look at what other information centres are doing around the country, they're trying to cut costs.''

He also criticised the sketchy details of the application.

''If anyone else had put that proposal to council, they would have been laughed out ... it certainly lacked detail.''

In releasing his interim decision last year, Mr Nugent asked the council for further information on several aspects including parking arrangements and design of the car park; landscaping and the effects of the centre on the existing layby on State Highway 8B.

In his final decision, released last week, Mr Nugent said he was satisfied with information provided by the council and concluded the effects of the proposal on the environment would be minor.

He granted the consent subject to 13 conditions, including a restriction on what could be sold at the centre - Central Otago branded products; souvenir items; small travellers' items such as sunscreen, adapters and locks; special interest books on the area; travel guides and pamphlets; phone cards, stamps and postcards.

The application had said the centre would sell local food, wine and crafts.

Other conditions concerned signs, a footpath and parking and limited the use of the land and building to that of a visitor information centre.

Submitters have 15 working days to appeal to the Environment Court.

Central Otago visitor centres manager Pam Broadhead said the next stage, after the appeal period, would be to complete internal designs and costings.

The information centre relocation was mooted about six years ago but has been deferred several times, mostly due to cost.

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