Meeting to present floating hotel plans

An artist's impression of the multimillion-dollar floating hotel proposed for Oamaru Harbour.
An artist's impression of the multimillion-dollar floating hotel proposed for Oamaru Harbour.
Conceptual designs for a now-controversial proposal for a multimillion-dollar floating luxury hotel for Oamaru Harbour will be presented at a public meeting on Thursday.

Steven Chambers - of Christchurch-based architects Stufkens and Chambers - and the Oamaru Licensing Trust will present initial plans for what was initially presented as a potential drawcard for Oamaru.

However, earlier this month Waitaki district councillor Peter Garvan and consequently Oamaru identity Alan McLay - a member of the Oamaru Licensing Trust, a former Waitaki mayor, a member of the economic development group Venture Waitaki and a director of Oamaru Adventure Park - placed competing advertisements in the Otago Daily Times opposing, then endorsing, the proposal; the latter offering a point-by-point rebuttal of the former advertisement.

Oamaru Licensing Trust chairman Ali Brosnan said the meeting had always been planned, but the trust would be seeking community feedback.

The basic design of the hotel rooms was "pretty well sorted" but the overall exterior design remained "up in the air".

He said some of the reasons people were citing in opposition of the community-owned trust's proposal were "quite mind-blowing" at this early stage.

"It's still very early days," Mr Brosnan said. "We've got to be happy with the design ourselves - and definitely we want the public on board with it as well.

"We're only trying to benefit the town. We see ourselves as progressive; you can't bury your head in the sand. And I think people can be a wee bit impulsive in their responses rather than waiting and seeing what is going to happen. There will be plenty of time for people to comment after they see what is being proposed.

"This will only be proceeding if the licensing trust can make a serious business case out of it; there are a lot of boxes to be ticked before anything starts."

Some had argued the hotel would occupy too much space in the harbour, but the proposed location - 50m to 60m away from the nearest boat that was moored in the harbour year-round - would mean the hotel would only take up "a wee tiny piece of the water".

Last week, Waitaki District Council chief executive Fergus Power said if an application for a resource consent for a floating hotel in Oamaru Harbour were to be lodged with the council, an independent commissioner would be appointed to consider the application.

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