B&B build up­sets lo­cals

Un­usual tiny house should have needed con­sent, neigh­bours con­tend

Whanganui Chronicle - - Front Page - Lau­rel Stow­ell

The cou­ple next door to an ex­per­i­men­tal build­ing go­ing up at Pu­tiki — and eight other house­holds — are dis­ap­pointed they weren’t con­sulted first. “If it was me build­ing that, I would’ve had con­sid­er­a­tion for the neigh­bours,” Wanda McGrail said.

She and her hus­band, Tony, have penned a let­ter, signed off by eight lo­cal house­holds.

Ar­chi­tect Eli­nor Har­vey McDouall and her hus­band, Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall, have em­barked on a project to turn the hull of a boat into a tiny house, of­fer­ing lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion. The hull is on site at 52 Pu­tiki Drive, over­look­ing the Whanganui River.

McDouall re­grets that she hasn’t con­sulted the neigh­bours but said that wasn’t a usual re­quire­ment for a per­son build­ing a house.

But the McGrails say the build­ing is a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise and they want Whanganui Dis­trict Coun­cil to “clar­ify how this is con­sid­ered a per­mit­ted ac­tiv­ity”.

They spend part of the year in Canada, but Tony is a fourth gen­er­a­tion Whanganui per­son and McDouall has met him twice.

“I re­gret that I didn’t make con­tact with him ear­lier. It didn’t oc­cur to me to con­sult, but I re­ally wish that I had done,” she said.

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 the house will rest on.

“It shook our house for a full day. I couldn’t be out­side.”

Noise is usual dur­ing con­struc­tion, McDouall said.

Her con­trac­tor has told her neigh­bours there has never been an is­sue with the method used to drive in the col­umns.

The McGrails say the ac­com­mo­da­tion is a com­mer­cial en­ter­prise in a res­i­den­tial zone and should have needed con­sent.

But McDouall said Airbnb ac­com­mo­da­tion

I wanted to do

some­thing ex­per­i­men­tal, and I saw a need in Whanganui. Eli­nor Har­vey McDouall

is a new thing and still a “grey area” where con­sent is con­cerned. “Most Airbnb places have no con­sent or per­mis­sions.”

Res­i­dents who signed the McGrail’s let­ter worry the tiny house will mean more traf­fic and vis­i­tors to their “lit­tle piece of par­adise”.

But McDouall said it can only ac­com­mo­date one cou­ple and one other per­son.

“Any in­crease in traf­fic will be less than if I had built a fam­ily home on that prop­erty.”

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 McDouall and her hus­band own, apart from their house, and she said it would be a long time be­fore it could make a profit.

They hope to pay it off through rent­ing it out, and then re­tire in it — ei­ther where it is in Whanganui or moved to the Awhitu Penin­sula in South Auck­land.

“I wanted to do some­thing ex­per­i­men­tal, and I saw a need in Whanganui,” she said.

“I want [the town] to grow and pros­per and at­tract a cer­tain type of tourist, with the river a high­light.”

Photo / Lau­rel Stow­ell

Tony and Wanda McGrail and eight other Pu­tiki res­i­dents would like to have been con­sulted be­fore a lux­ury ac­com­mo­da­tion project be­gan.

Photo / File

Eli­nor Har­vey McDouall with fab­ri­ca­tion en­gi­neer Michael Hughes.

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