6 Nov 2020

Developer abandons appeal over New Plymouth hotel/apartment complex

7:30 pm on 6 November 2020

The developer behind a plan to build an apartment and commercial complex in New Plymouth has abandoned its Environmental Court challenge.

Artists impression of a proposed development near Ngāmotu Beach in New Plymouth. Circled at right is an operating oil well.

An artist's impression of a proposed development near Ngāmotu Beach in New Plymouth. Circled at right is an operating oil well. Photo: Supplied / Nagel Consultants

The Seaport Land Company was refused resource consents over concerns about noise from Port Taranaki and the development's proximity to hazardous facilities.

But it's not giving up the fight entirely.

Seaport Land Company said the opportunity to redevelop the former cool store buildings near Ngāmotu Beach and adjacent to Port Taranaki is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

It said the project, including offices, shops and restaurants will rejuvenate a neglected part of the city and allow the local hapū, Ngāti Te Whiti, to reconnect with a historical pā site.

The district council received 105 public submissions on the proposal - of which just six opposed the plan in its entirety.

Port Taranaki was a prominent opponent.

Seaport Land Company director Russell Nagel said it had recently revised the scale of the project to ease the port's concerns, but to no avail.

"We then attempted to talk to the port about reducing the number of residential units and also focusing the residential at the eastern end of the site. And they didn't want to know about it and basically threw it back at us and said 'no', so we've now removed the appeal."

Nagel said the company would instead now challenge noise control boundaries in the proposed district plan.

"Historically this site is part of the major facilities zone around the port and things have obviously changed significantly over the last 20 or years and we think it's high time for a review."

Size of buffer zone being challenged

Seaport also wanted a risk assessment done to establish whether a 250 metre buffer zone was necessary around existing significant hazardous facilities in the area.

Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said its main concern was about noise complaints from future residents, despite Seaport saying any future residents would be required to sign a covenant saying that they wouldn't grumble.

"Reverse sensitivity is the key issue for the port. We don't believe the measures offered will for generations come to be satisfactory," Roper said.

"The Seaport Land Company is an industrially zoned site and we deem it not suitable for residential activity."

Roper said Port Taranaki was regionally and nationally significant and he was concerned the Seaport Land Company's project could affect its ability to develop and expand.

"I think there are always developments that can come through for the port and essentially we are keeping our options open to ensure we can meet those and support port-related activities."

Cafe owner disappointed

The owner of Tiger Town Cafe in Moturoa, Pip Guthrie, was upset Seaport had withdrawn its appeal.

"Well I'm initially disappointed but I'm actually really gutted that it's not going ahead with the big plan and bringing vitality back to Moturoa rather than logging trucks."

The owner of Tiger Town Cafe in Moturoa, Pip Guthrie in New Plymouth

The owner of Tiger Town Cafe in Moturoa, Pip Guthrie. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Guthrie couldn't see what the port was worried about.

"You know I live 50 metres from the cool stores so perhaps maybe they want me to push off, push me out as well, but I can't see any problem. There's been residential around that port for probably the last 150 years."

Martins Fashion manager Liz Miller was disappointed the project was not going ahead, but could understand the port's concerns.

"I guess I understand where they are coming from. If you are going to go and put a residential development and whatnot in the cool stores and then you've got the port and all their noise you know.

"If you're going to live there or doing anything there you can't be complaining about the noise that goes on because it is what it is."

Martins Fashion manager Liz Miller in New Plymouth

Liz Miller: "I guess I understand where they are coming from." Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Submissions to the district plan closed last month and are now being considered by council officers.

A finalised plan could take up to two years to complete.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs