Neighbours rocking mayor’s boat project
Whanganui’s mayor and his wife have upset some ratepayers with an experimental building project taking shape beside the Whanganui River.
Architect Elinor Harvey McDouall and her husband Hamish are trying to turn a boat hull into a tiny house, offering luxury accommodation.
McDouall regrets she hasn’t consulted the neighbours — but said that wasn’t a usual requirement for a person building a house.
A couple living next door — and eight other households — are disappointed they weren’t consulted.
“If it was me . . . I would’ve had consideration for the neighbours,” Putiki resident Wanda McGrail said.
She and her husband, Tony, have penned a letter, which the other eight households have also signed.
The McGrails say it’s a commercial enterprise and they want Whanganui District Council to “clarify how this is considered a permitted activity”.
McDouall said: “It didn’t occur to me to consult, but I really wish that I had done.”
Wanda McGrail said there was a lot of noise and vibration in mid-October when six steel columns were driven into the ground to support beams for the house to rest on.
“It shook our house for a full day. I couldn’t be outside.”
McDouall said noise was usual during construction. Her contractor has told her neighbours there has never been an issue with the method used to drive in the columns.
In response to the claim it’s a commercial project, McDouall said Airbnb accommodation was a new thing and still a “grey area” where consent was concerned.
“Most Airbnb places have no consent or permissions.”
Residents who signed the McGrails’ letter worry the tiny house will mean more traffic and visitors to their “little piece of paradise”. But McDouall said it can only accommodate a couple and one other person.
“Any increase in traffic will be less than if I had built a family home.”
A mobile home may be parked in the driveway during the holiday period, to provide security for the site — which didn’t please McGrail.
“We are going to have camping now, next door,” she said.
The building is the only one the McDoualls own, apart from their house.