10 May 2017

Hotel plans prioritise visitors over residents - objectors

6:13 pm on 10 May 2017

Residents above the proposed site for Dunedin's first five-star hotel say it's not right their view of the city will be blocked so tourists can have a better one.

An artist's impressions of the view of the proposed central Dunedin hotel from Filleul St.

An artist's impression of the view of the proposed central Dunedin hotel from Filleul St. Photo: Supplied

The 17-storey 'Electric Thistle' Moray Place design would sit behind the city's heritage buildings in the Octagon.

More than 200 submissions on the project have been filed - three quarters of them in opposition.

The hotel's height and modern design has some residents worried - at about 64m high it would be significantly taller than the current 11m limit imposed on the chosen site, which is currently a carpark.

The City Rise Up group, which represents residents and businesses in the CBD, was among those who opposed the project.

Spokesperson Meg Davidson said it was "shameful" that developers were giving international visitors a view of the city, "when they're depriving residents who look at it every day and bought their properties with the view in mind".

The hotel would be a "blot on the landscape", she said.

The group accepted Dunedin needed a five-star hotel, but thought one of the city's existing heritage buildings could have been converted into boutique luxury accommodation, she said.

It is not the first time a five-star design has been proposed for the city.

In 2014, a 27-story waterfront design attracted almost 500 submissions in opposition and [http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/241663/dunedin-luxury-hotel-plan-abandoned

its resource consent was rejected.]

Submitter Peter Entwisle did not think the new proposal was much better, saying the hotel's glass frontage contrasted too strongly with the stone cladding on the Octagon's heritage buildings.

The hotel should have been low-rise and designed in a sympathetic style to the older buildings around it, he said.

"And if people are concerned about people making the mistake that this is some centuries-old building, you just put a big sign on it saying 'Erected 2017'."

The proposed hotel would feature 210 hotel rooms plus apartments, cafe, a wine club, public hot pools and conference rooms.

It has drawn support from the Otago Chamber of Commerce, with a member survey showing 80 percent in favour.

'Some people do want to move Dunedin forward'

Some residents thought the hotel was just what Dunedin needed.

Waverley resident Mike Burrows said he and his wife filed submissions because they knew many other supporters would not "put pen to paper".

"I was trying to get some numbers in there to show that some people do want to move Dunedin forward," he said.

"It looked pretty cool, we just need some more fresh stuff in the CBD... It's got this feeling like it's dying so it'd be nice to have a breath of fresh air."

There was a core group of objectors who had delayed several projects in Dunedin and it was hard for developers to make traction, he said.

Fellow resident Vivienne Child said as the city's Forsyth Barr stadium attracted more international events, it was time tourists and entertainers were offered more - and better - accommodation.

"I know people who are avoiding coming to Dunedin because they don't regard the accommodation as being the standard that they've become used to expecting."

The hotel's developer Tony Tosswill, who represented Horizon Hospitality Group, said the hotel was being built high rather than wide out of consideration for the views of people living in the city rise area.

To meet international five-star standards the hotel needed views and around 200 rooms, he said.

"We do not think we can copy or duplicate the fantastic architecture of the historic buildings in Dunedin," he said.

"To us it would be an insult to try. What our design does is enhance it."

Public hearings on the submissions will take place in July.