‘Hard place for new investors’
Rejected: No fivestar hotel for Dunedin
THE man behind Dunedin’s latest fivestar hotel bid says the decision to reject his development will send a bad signal.
Tekapo businessman Anthony Tosswill said yesterday the rejection would tell New Zealand and the world ‘‘that Dunedin is a very hard place for new investors to do business’’.
‘‘It is with deep regret that the development has been rejected . . . Dunedin needed this project to move forward,’’ he said.
His comments came after a panel of independent commissioners yesterday announced Mr Tosswill’s bid for consent for his 17storey hotel and apartment tower in Moray Pl had been rejected.
The panel cited ‘‘significant’’ concerns, including height and visual dominance, which would result in it towering over neighbouring heritage buildings and casting a midwinter shadow over the Octagon.
Mr Tosswill, in a statement, said he appreciated the support his project had received, including from Dunedin City Council staff who worked with his team before the consent application.
He ruled out appealing the decision, but said he would consider a revised design ‘‘only if we have support’’.
The process had already come at ‘‘great expense’’ to him and he was disappointed an earlier revision — reducing the building to 15 stories, including just 12 above ground — did not sway the panel.
The commissioners had accepted the desirability of a hotel on the site, but not his design, which he found ‘‘confusing to say the least’’.
‘‘It fails to grasp the commercial reality of hotel investment in a relatively lowyield environment like Dunedin.
‘‘This is not Queenstown or Auckland.
‘‘If Dunedin thinks that a fivestar hotel is a priority for the city, then the city needs to rethink its planning,’’ he said.
Mayor Dave Cull said he was also disappointed, but insisted the city remained open for business.
Mr Cull was not available for an interview yesterday, but in a statement said he remained ‘‘supportive’’ of a fivestar hotel development in the city.
‘‘I am disappointed at the outcome . . . Both I and the council have been clear for some time that we would warmly welcome an appropriate fivestar hotel in the city,’’ he said.
He accepted the panel’s decision, but ‘‘strong demand, and a gap in the market, for this type of accommodation’’ remained, he said.
The decision also divided opinion online, 67% of respondents to an Otago Daily Times informal poll, which had attracted more than 1300 votes by last night, saying they were against the panel’s decision.
Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive Dougal McGowan said the business community would also be ‘‘pretty disappointed’’.
The project would have attracted a new type of visitor to Dunedin, and ‘‘that’s an opportunity that could be lost’’, he said.
He also worried the decision ‘‘might deter’’ other potential investors.
‘‘I would say people will start thinking twice about it,’’ he said.
However, heritage advocate Peter Entwisle, who was among those to oppose the project, said he was not surprised by the outcome.
‘‘It seemed to be very far away from what is required by the district plan.’’
Yesterday’s decision came two years after talks between the parties began, leading to a consent application being filed in April.
It was deemed noncomplying under district plan rules and attracted 271 submitters, including 206 opposed to the hotel.
The panel — chairman Andrew Noone, Stephen Daysh, of Napier, and Gavin Lister, of Auckland — heard arguments over seven days before releasing their decision yesterday.
The building would be the tallest in the central city, at 62.5m, and ‘‘out of scale’’ with its surroundings, which included the Municipal Chambers, town hall, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Octagon, they said.
There was a place for ‘‘exceptional’’ modern architecture next to heritage buildings, but only if the design was right.
‘‘Despite extensive questions on this matter, we did not receive persuasive evidence that the building would have the qualities to ‘pull off’ the contrast.
‘‘Having made these determinations . . . we are unable to grant consent,’’ the panel said.
❛ If Dunedin thinks that a fivestar hotel is a priority for the city, then the city needs to rethink its planning developer Anthony Tosswill
Whys and wherefores . . . Andrew Noone, chairman of the panel of independent commissioners considering Dunedin’s latest fivestar hotel bid, explains the decision to media yesterday.