Oyster festival set to return in May after hotel demolition

The Bluff oyster festival is set to return next year after consent was given for demolition of...
The Bluff oyster festival is set to return next year after consent was given for demolition of Bluff’s Club Hotel. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A date has been set for next year’s Bluff Oyster and Food Festival but plenty of work will have to be done to get the gates open.

The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival Trust was awarded consent late on Friday to demolish the Club Hotel — with conditions — which should allow the festival to go ahead.

Trust committee member Kylie Fowler said May 25 had been set for the festival and she was confident if everything went right the festival could go ahead on that date.

This year’s festival did not happen because of risks associated with the neighbouring Club Hotel. It was cancelled last year because of Covid.

The hotel was in poor condition and the trust wanted to knock it down but it was opposed by the Invercargill City Council which had concerns over loss of heritage values and landscaping.

A resource consent hearing took place in front of a commissioner last month and a decision, which allowed the demolition to go ahead with conditions, was released last Friday.

The trust immediately applied to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to have road controls on State Highway1 in Bluff to allow for the demolition.

Waka Kotahi needed 42 days’ notice before closing a road so the trust had to get in early, Mrs Fowler said.

The trust had plenty of experience among its ranks and knew what to do to get the festival ready to go.

"We don’t have to actually be on the grounds of the festival until two weeks before the day. Prior to that we can work away from there.

"When we were threatened with it going into Invercargill, we had a meeting in late December to put on a festival in late May. We were total novices then but we managed to get it done."

"We have more than 10 years’ experience in doing this."

The issue might be with the many bureaucrats who needed plans approved before giving the go-ahead.

The conditions imposed by independent commissioner Paula Costello were similar to what the trust wanted.

Many people did not realise how dangerous and how bad a condition the hotel was in, Mrs Fowler said.

It was costing the trust $10,000 a year to "do nothing" in keeping the hotel standing when it wanted to knock it down. The hearing cost the trust $25,000.

The council declined to comment on whether it would appeal the decision. Appeals must be lodged by January 12.

None of the 24 submissions to the hearing opposed the demolition.