Hotel: DCC and COC sell out Dunedin community to Chinese trojans

‘Perceived’ Conflict of Interest:
Dave Cull (also Mayor of Dunedin) has used Steve Rodgers (partner in Rodgers Law; also a director of Betterways Advisory Ltd) as his personal solicitor in recent times. The mayor is welcome to confirm or deny this in order to set the record straight.

Dunedin Hotel proposed [via]Dunedin’s Old-Boy CARGO CULT is disabling your City

ODT 21-12-12 screenshotODT Online 21.12.12 (screenshot)

DCC Betterways MOU (detail)

Dunedin City Council – Media Release
Next Step for Waterfront Hotel Proposal

This item was published on 10 Mar 2014

Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull and Betterways Advisory Limited have today announced the signing of an agreement to work together to try to achieve the construction of a five-star hotel for Dunedin.

The parties have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that establishes a framework and a process to address issues raised by an earlier resource consent application.

Betterways’ application to build a 27-storey, five-star hotel at 41 Wharf Street was declined resource consent in June last year.

Mr Cull says, “Since that time, the DCC has worked extensively with Betterways to find whether a hotel can be constructed on this site that both realises Betterways’ investment ambitions and benefits the city.”

The DCC and Betterways agree that connectivity issues are a major focus going forward and have committed to work together to seek solutions.

If solutions can be found, the DCC will set up an urban design panel to provide independent design review and subsequent advice. Their focus will be on sustainable development and the creation of a design that contributes to a safe, healthy and attractive urban environment.

The panel will encourage best practice approaches to development, specific to the hotel’s site. This process provides an independent peer review from leaders in a variety of relevant professional institutes, including the development sector, practitioners and academics.

“Urban design panels are widely used in other centres. We’re really delighted to have an opportunity to use this successful formula here in Dunedin, and on such an important project for the city,” Mr Cull says.

Once the design panel and DCC staff members were satisfied the new hotel proposal had resolved the issues, the DCC would initiate a District Plan Change process to change the zoning of the Wharf Street site from industrial so a panel-approved design could be built on the site.

Any development proposal would still be subject to the Resource Management Act.

One of Betterways’ owners, Jing Song, says, “After a very challenging two years, we are delighted that the Council has shown a commitment to our investment in this beautiful city. We know our hotel plans are exciting for Dunedin and we are very pleased to have established a framework to deliver a hotel that meets the desires of the local community.”

The Council agreed to sign the MoU during the non-public part of its meeting on 24 February.

Betterways will make a decision about whether to pursue its appeal when the process agreed through the MoU has advanced enough to show that the proposal will be supported by the Council.

Hotel MOU (PDF, 297 KB)

Contact Mayor of Dunedin on 03 477 4000.

DCC Link

Related Posts and Comments:
26.2.14 Hotel: Rosemary McQueen on consent decision LUC 2012-212
14.2.14 Hotel: The height of arrogance
25.6.13 Hotel/Apartment Tower decision to be appealed

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ODT 10.3.14: Agreement signed over waterfront hotel

Ch39 Cull Rodgers 10.3.14 (2)

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Media, Name, New Zealand, ORC, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

48 responses to “Hotel: DCC and COC sell out Dunedin community to Chinese trojans

  1. Hype O'Thermia

    Why? “Mr Cull says, “Since that time, the DCC has worked extensively with Betterways to find whether a hotel can be constructed on this site that both realises Betterways’ investment ambitions and benefits the city.”

    Why is it vital for it to be built on THAT site to realise “Betterways’ investment ambitions and benefits the city”? Is it to establish the primacy of Betterways and anyone with money, and their ability to neuter mayor and councillors, consign the District Plan to the shredder, and dismiss the concerns of a very large proportion of the population of Dunedin? The Dunedinites who support this development are not supporting an accommodation block on that site where it has such adverse effects on the views from the harbour and from all the areas that face towards it. They are supporting the idea that there will be jobs, and the “build it and they will come” promise that it will cause Progress: heard that one before too.

    Heard it, sold down the river to enable it, still paying.

  2. Rough notes:

    1. Height of the proposed development is the primary issue.

    2. Loss of Industrial 1 zoned land at head of Steamer Basin (Port of Dunedin) is also at issue.

    3. The cost to DCC – therefore, the Ratepayers, who did not have a say in Council arriving at the MOU – as a result of the MOU, Urban Design Panel, the Plan Change process, Infrastructure Services (including “connectivity”) and so on, is likely to be substantial.

    4. Opponents of the proposed development for 41 Wharf Street have been aggrieved from the first (11 May 2012). I suggest they will be appalled by the Arrogance of the developers and now the Dunedin City Council.

    5. The proposed footbridge over the railway lines is a side issue – the footbridge, aired via the Dunedin Harbourside Plan Change, has always been a matter for which there is no public agreement – some citizens want Rattray/Fryatt street reopened with a road crossing at grade; others have suggested the link should be by tunnel under the railway for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles; others think the railway lines should be sunk below surface, to re-emerge before Dunedin Railway Station. There is no public consensus.

    6. The DCC now states in the MOU that “pedestrian connectivity is primarily the responsibility of the Council” (MOU clause 7. Other Design Issues). The MOU states “…the bridge is fundamental to the plan change. The primary liability for the cost of the bridge lies with the Council. If it links with the hotel then the parties will agree a fair sharing of the costs of the bridge.” (MOU clause 17)

    7. (MOU clause 11a) “Provided Betterways confirm the Hotel is financially viable…”. Note: the development design submitted for resource consent contains more apartments (164) than hotel rooms, yet the MOU refers only to “the hotel”.

    8. (MOU clause 16) “[blacked out] will grant the Council a covenant over its land to protect the enforcement of Betterways obligations under this agreement [blacked out].

    9. The developers have not ingratiated themselves to the wider Dunedin Community at any time.

    10. How many city councillors are prepared to back a 96.3m tower (27 storeys from ground level) at the waterfront? What are their names?

    11. Commissioners. Hired hands to see this proposal through? (like the Stadium Plan Change)

  3. Ian Telfer from Radio New Zealand has just interviewed me regarding the MOU. I wonder if he will use any of my crass and angry statements. Sorry Ian, I’m so against this tower development on this site.

  4. Good comments at ODT Online:

    Glitch and glamour
    Submitted by mike_nixon on Mon, 10/03/2014 – 12:31pm.
    Agreed, I have been to Miami, South Beach is dominated by hotels, the “beach” is an afterthought .What I particulaly like about Dunedin is the heritage buildings, the influence of the university, the art school. The way the landscape dominates the built structures apart from the stadium, low rise. Dunedin just does not need this to thrive. Democracy has largely been ignored, seems to be a trend around the country. I am not anti progress, but this is a hugely retrograde step totally out of character. Where is the district plan, sorry, this site is not appropriate for the type of development proposed. 1 or 2 storeys, but no more. It’s about not affecting the vast majority who will gain nothing from this eyesore. DCC step back right away from binding agreements and start debating whether high rise buildings are appropriate anywhere in Dunedin, particulaly on the waterfront. I mean honestly, CHCH has not chosen to go over 7 storeys, just what parallel universe is the DCC in?


    proof that money rules all..
    Submitted by cityrise on Mon, 10/03/2014 – 11:58am.
    The biggest opposition in Dunedin history gets brushed aside like an annoying little gnat as big money reigns supreme and dictates all outcomes. I guess what this comes down to is democracy is an afterthought when the wealthy have ideas of their own.

    “panel-approved design”

    I suppose the panel will be hand picked to consist of anyone who loathes heritage and are huge fans of Miami. I envision the same exact design approved, but with a 1 metre tall wooden carved border capping the top. Yes, I am a naysayer because I have zero confidence in Betterways or a “design panel” to give a single iota of consideration to the surrounding environment. It’s going to be a joke. I also think this is a dead end investment. It shows the complete lack of vision this city truly needs. We need real progress.. technology parks, medical research facilities, exporting of intellectual property to the world, local industry support and new startups. A hotel? You want to call me the “anti-progress league” and your idea of progress for Dunedin is a hotel and some min wage jobs? Stunning.

  5. Whippet

    The District Plan now becomes a worthless document that has been sold to the highest bidder.

  6. Gordon

    This is a repeat of what council did out in Mosgiel. Turned down at the resource consent stage. They go away and change the District Plan to suit the outcome that council wanted, and Bobs your uncle. A crony’s land value over night went from $250,000 to $15 million.

  7. Carolyn

    The official opening of the new hotel will be preceded with the unveiling of a statue of Mao Zedong in the Octagon to replace that of Robbie Burns.

  8. He drew the stadium dog, with the mayor and dog biscuits.
    Imagine there’s a Garrick Tremain cartoon coming for the tower delight !!

  9. The same applies if they are investors from Waitati. No apologies.

    Dave Goosselink Tweets 10.3.14

  10. John W

    Council could always do for the hotel what they did for Veggie Boys out in Mosgiel. Let them build and operate out of zone for six months before they required them to get a resource consent to operate.

  11. Peter

    Dave Goosselink, mentioned here in the tweets, is a TV3 reporter for Dunedin, is he not?
    He is entitled to his personal views, but does this not put his public statements in doubt in terms of attempting to appear balanced when reporting on the hotel as well as the stadium which he has also supported one-sidedly irrespective of any negative news about it.
    Shane Taurima and Tamati Coffey have run into trouble with their Labour Party affiliations. Where does this leave Dave Goosselink?

  12. ### Updated at 4:06 pm today
    RNZ News
    Move to advance controversial hotel
    A controversial hotel on Dunedin’s waterfront is a step closer to becoming reality. The Dunedin City Council has signed a memorandum of understanding with the developers.
    The developers, Betterways Advisory Ltd, have appealed against the decision of a resource consent panel, which last year turned down the company’s proposal for a 27-storey luxury hotel and apartment complex. The panel found that the proposal failed key legal tests.
    Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has spent months trying to find a compromise to secure the South Island city’s first five-star hotel.
    The spokesperson for Betterways Advisory, Steve Rodgers, says the agreement announced on Monday is a major step forward that has got them and the council on the same team. “That doesn’t mean to say that we necessarily will agree at the end, but it means we’re working together rather than against each other.”
    The hotel was rejected largely because of its height (27 storeys) and perceived traffic and connectivity problems with the site, which sits between Dunedin’s Steamer Basin waterfront and the main railway trunk line.
    Under the agreement, the council and developers will try to resolve traffic problems before passing the project to an urban design panel to redesign the building. If that succeeds, the council says it would support a district plan change to allow the hotel to be built.
    Both sides say everything is on the table, including the hotel’s height, shape and look, but it is intended for the same site.
    Dunedin design consultant* Elizabeth Kerr says there is no sign the developers are willing to compromise on the building’s height and believes it is a “huge step back” for Dunedin. “I don’t think we should be bargaining with the investors or the developers at all at this point, unless they’re willing to go to another site and be lower rise.”
    Ms Kerr says the developers are being arrogant to the project’s opponents.

    RNZ made a wrong attribution in today’s coverage of the MOU, describing Elizabeth Kerr as a “heritage architect”.

    This afternoon Elizabeth Kerr contacted RNZ’s Otago reporter Ian Telfer to request a correction. Mr Telfer has corrected the web text. However, the sound bite could not be re-edited before it aired. Mr Telfer kindly offered a genuine apology for the error, which was not sought.

    Elizabeth Kerr is not a registered architect. The word architect is legally protected via the New Zealand Architects Act. Further, the NZ Registered Architects Board (NZRAB) does not recognise the title “heritage architect”; this title is used by some registered architects for a marketing advantage but it does not carry any New Zealand accreditation or professionally recognised distinction.

    The wrong attribution features in this Checkpoint story:

    ### Monday 10 March 2014,
    Checkpoint with Mary Wilson
    Dunedin hotel’s shape and size up for debate
    17:56 A 100-million-dollar luxury hotel for Dunedin’s waterfront has won a new lease of life nine months after being skittled, though what shape it takes is wide open to change.
    Audio | Downloads: Ogg   MP3 ( 2′ 46″ )


    ### Monday March 10 2014 15:32 UPDATED 4:58pm:
    Progress in Dunedin’s $100m waterfront hotel saga
    By Adam Walker, Lower South Island News
    The Mayor of Dunedin is hopeful the public can see progress is being made in the saga of the proposed $100 million waterfront hotel.
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the City Council and the hotels backers Betterways Limited, to work over the issues when the project first went through the resource consent process.
    It was denied consent in June last year.
    Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull hopes those who stood up against the hotel can see this as the council taking their issues seriously, but still wanting to see the city progress.
    “And I would hope that the people who oppose the hotel would see that the council recognises that the issues that were raised by the decision are being addressed.”
    The backers of the proposed waterfront hotel continue to be confident of the project going ahead.
    Betterways Limited is wanting to built a 27-storey, five star hotel just overlooking the harbour.
    Steve Rodgers from Betterways says the group remains dedicated to Dunedin.
    “My people could have decided to fold their tent and walk away. The great thing for this city is that they are committed to it, and I think that’s a wonderful advantage for us and is what kept all of us going in relation to this negotiation.”
    The signing of the understanding will establish a framework and a process to address the issues raised by the original resource consent application.
    Mr Rogers says this MoU will see the two parties working together, which is a big step forward.–100m-waterfront-hotel-saga


    ### 10-52AM Monday March 10, 2014
    Fresh attempt to build 5-star Dunedin hotel
    Source- ONE News
    A fresh attempt to build a five star hotel in Dunedin has been announced.
    The Dunedin Mayor and Betterways Advisory Ltd have signed an agreement to work together to try to achieve the construction of a luxury hotel. It follows the refusal of an application for 27-storey building last year.
    The parties have signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes a framework and a process to address issues raised by the earlier resource consent application.
    The $100 million development proposed for the city’s Wharf Street, was met with opposition from Dunedin City Council and residents when the plans were unveiled. It failed to get resource consent last June.
    Under this new framework the first hurdle for planners will be the access to the proposed hotel. If they can find solutions there, then the Dunedin City Council will set up an urban design panel to provide an independent review and advice.
    Once the panel and DCC are satisfied that all issues are resolved then the council will start the process of changing the District Plan to rezone the industrial Wharf St site.


    ### Monday 10 Mar 2014 11:44a.m.
    Dunedin hotel plans still bubbling away
    Dunedin may yet get a flash new waterfront hotel after the city council and a Chinese-backed developer agreed to work on a new design and some rule changes to get it built. The council last year rejected permission for a $100-million, 27-storey, five-star hotel, which would have been the city’s biggest building.
    In the middle of an industrial area – surrounded by railway lines and a four-lane highway – it would have looked out of place and it was on reclaimed land, subject to earthquakes without any consideration of construction effects.
    Today, Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the council and developers had signed a memorandum of understanding to try to find a way to get the hotel built. If solutions can be found, an independent council-funded urban design panel would look at the plans and advise on whether or not they would work, Mr Cull said. The panel’s focus would be on “sustainable development and the creation of a design that contributes to a safe, healthy and attractive urban environment”. Once the panel and council staff were satisfied the new hotel proposal would work, the council would work to have the land re-zoned. Any development proposal would still be subject to the Resource Management Act, Mr Cull said. The developers also have to prove the hotel will be financially viable.
    Timeframes for the memorandum have been redacted in the public copy of the MoU.
    The hotel is the brainchild of 26-year-old Chinese-born Otago University graduate Jing Song and her husband.
    Mrs Song said she was delighted with the moves after a very challenging two years trying to get the hotel approved.
    “We know our hotel plans are exciting for Dunedin and we are very pleased to have established a framework to deliver a hotel that meets the desires of the local community.”
    The developers have appealed the council’s decision to decline resource consent. The appeal may go ahead if they aren’t happy with progress. NZN


    ### Las updated 15:45 10/03/2014
    Dunedin 5-star hotel back on course
    By Wilma McCorkindale
    Dunedin ratepayers will pay $30,000 for a panel of skilled designers to guide the development and construction of a waterfront five-star hotel and apartment complex. The proposed 27-storey Shanghai-style high-rise complex, backed by Chinese developers Betterways Advisory, was rejected at the end of a protracted Dunedin City Council hearings process last year. However, talks continued between the council and Betterways.
    Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, flanked by his chief executive Sue Bidrose, said this morning the council and Betterways would work together to make the complex happen.
    Through a memorandum of understanding the council would stump up the $300,000 for a panel of urban designers to make traffic and access workable, and to create the hotel design. The council would also initiate a district plan process to change the industrial zoning of the proposed hotel site, at 41 Wharf St, to ensure its construction complied. The 240-room complex failed to get resource consent after two successive applications over two years. Its consent application attracted hundreds of opposing submissions, mainly against the hotel’s height and its impact on Dunedin’s historic cityscape. Cull said the agreement was about finding a solution that realised both Betterways’ ambitions and benefited the city.

    This story has been updated to correct the figure the ratepayers will pay to $30,000.

  13. ### March 10, 2014 – 6:58pm
    DCC to work with Betterways to make the hotel a reality
    The DCC and the company behind the 27 storey hotel proposal for Dunedin today announced an agreement that may result in the hotel’s construction. Under the agreement the council will put together an urban design panel to review the proposed building and offer advice. And the outcome could be a change of land zoning for the proposed site.


    Who are the investors. Who are the developers.
    We still don’t know this.

    We have Betterways parading a little girl with a ring on her finger.
    What was that about trojans.

    Nothing but bullshit from Daaaave Plonker and the Dunedin City Council.

    Quoting the original resource consent application (paragraph 7), the council planner reports that Betterways’ documentation states the proposal is for “215 bedrooms, [and] 164 self-contained apartments”. The planner then notes Betterways’ plans as submitted “suggest there will be fewer apartments (approximately 140) and more hotel rooms (approximately 254)”.

    This is not just “a hotel” block.

  14. ro

    {Ro – I accept correction and highlight this in my comment – doesn’t matter, but turns out we’re both a bit off the mark according to the original application. Elizabeth}

    To be fair, Elizabeth, there are 215 hotel rooms and 167 apartments. I’m not getting my knickers in a twist yet – this memorandum is just a piece of puffery to disguise the fact that the decision of the planning commissioners still stands.

    For the proposal to proceed on that site, the concerns of that decision have to be met – that is the proposal has to change. It has to include some means of getting access to the site for the patrons that doesn’t involve using the district highway; other than a tunnel, which may or may not be approved by Kiwirail, no means comes to mind. It has to involve some means of providing pedestrian access to the site though this is considered to be the city’s responsibility if the proposal goes ahead. It has to be redesigned. The chances of any urban designers believing that 97m of glass is good design there is utterly remote and would not be accepted by council because of the legal decision that is currently in force. The chances of the developers accepting a proposal for fewer than 15-storeys, (which is still at least 5 storeys too high for my views but is possibly what the panel will suggest) is equally remote. And then we get to the plan change. Including that site in the harbourside zone was rejected because having it in would contradict the purposes of the council’s zoning aims. What has changed since that decision in 2011? The zone change would have to be publicly notified and unless the reason for changing met all of the concerns that led to its rejection by the planning commissioners, then its adoption would be uncertain at best.

    Insisting that the city has sold out to the developers suggests to the developers that this is indeed an option. The promulgation of the view that the city can and will overturn the statutory process is responsible for the developers’ touching faith in their ability to bypass the planning process. Let’s not also be responsible for encouraging them in that view. Let us say loudly and clearly to everyone that asks that the decision to reject the proposal in its current form still stands, because it does. The mou changes none of that.

    • Since when are DCC-hired planning commissioners there to uphold The People not the Developer. Not in the last rain shower. You are seeing (in the MOU) the planning means to pull this off – or we will pay very dearly to attempt to block the development. That’s how it rolls. No democracy here. It’s the RMA – and if they dangle long enough, the National-led government on its return in September will most certainly amend the RMA to give few rights to community or the process of community consultation. Watch this ramrod through. Reality.

      • ro

        Events will have to speak for themselves, but I believe your prediction is wrong. Though I agree National is doing its utmost to kick the community out of the consent process.

  15. Peter

    To what degree has the wider council been involved in the making of decisions to do with the hotel? Or is this just being pushed by an A Team? Is the wider council being ambushed and presented with information just prior to council meetings?
    I ask this because this is what has happened with the twists and turns leading to the final stadium decision.

  16. Peter

    Has the council done due dligence by looking into the background of Jing Song, and her husband, and their business dealings here and in China? Has the council been presented with a kind of CV of previous building projects carried out by these people, which can be verified…or not? It is no different from engaging a tradesman. You deal with and possibly hire on information based on their reputation.
    I would be alarmed if they have not done so.

  17. Semper Fidelis

    Is this the same Steve Rodgers the same Steve Rodgers who, in the early 1990s (along with Alistair Broad and David Moore) took the Dunedin City Council along with about 9 City Councillors to the High Court on a charge of breaches of the Members’ Interest Act? Their defence by Cr Kate Wilson’s father Michael Haggit (as I recall funded from the Council’s ratepayer general account). If this is the same Steve Rodgers, he and his colleagues on that occasion took a highly principled position. I shall remember those three individuals with fervent respect for the stance they took. Their intervention against corruption was a ‘game changer’ on the day, and (say what you like) the hapless ratepayers of today owe them a debt of gratitude for ‘lancing the boil’ that was a cabal of corrupt Councillors.

  18. Phil

    I like how the pedestrian bridge link is dropped in somewhere near the end as an after thought. That bridge has been a stumbling block for the past 15 years as it has been shown as virtually impossible to achieve with the rail corridor height requirements and accessibility requirements. The required sloping ramp length alone is about 100m. At each end. That is the reason why the old bridge at the railway station remained virtually unaltered as any major alteration would have required upgrading to modern mobility standards, which were not achievable without purchasing large quantities of adjoining land. You can’t get away with a solely mechanical lift option either, there must exist a manual alternative. That has always been the problem.

  19. Peter

    Given the obvious accessibility problems, hasn’t anyone on council just pointed out to the lovely Jing Song, ‘Sorry, sweetie, but we didn’t force you to buy that site. How about another site that would be more suitable for you and us?’
    That tells us who is in the more powerful position to call the shots.

    She obviously really wants to build a monument here to her greatness… despite the crocodile tears of it already being two years down the road, where she has been ever so patient with these tiresome, white people. But do we try to insist on conditons that suit us as a city? Like site and height?

    Another thing. Ro, with the stadium, people were saying it couldn’t happen because of the constraints of ‘x, y and z’ to do with the site such as the reclaimed land, the SH88 problems, getting all the leaseholders on board, district plan restrictions etc etc.
    It happened. Why? Because behind the scenes arms were twisted, the rules were changed,the courts were crooked, and key movers told assuring lies. This hotel business is a case of deja vu.

  20. Desmond

    I feel so sorry for Ms Song. In her own country she would not have to put up with this nonsense.
    In China, a big and important developer, like her, would be treated more kindly. If, for example, she wanted to build a high rise development in an area set for renewal, where, say, poor people lived in slums, there wouldn’t be the kind of squemishness we have here with booting such flotsam and jetsam out and making them homeless. Afterall, it’s not her worry, is it.
    Also, in China you can pollute your cities if you want to set up a manufacturing business near where people live. Really… they can wear face masks like everyone else. None of the ‘nanny state’ thinking we have here in sleepy, old NZ.
    Over there, if people have the temerity to protest, you slam them in jail or, failing to quell the problem, you gun them down in the streets. I like that. Direct action.
    She has a lot to offer with her Chinese business practices which we can learn from. China is an open and transparent society where corruption is unheard of. Let’s welcome her with empty wallets.

  21. Hype O'Thermia

    Peter’s right, “with the stadium, people were saying it couldn’t happen because of the constraints of ‘x, y and z’ …. It happened.” And in the process it provided a template for future “District Plan yadda yadda, phooey!” exploitation.

  22. ro

    The difference between the stadium and this proposal is that the stadium was a political decision. The conditions imposed by council at the March meeing looked as though they set a raft of practical and economic criteria to be met before the stadium could go ahead. But the arbiters of whether it met them was a majority of councillors. The criteria that this proposal must meet are set down in law – by the decision of the planning committee’s commissioners.

    As it stands it has failed to meet the requirement for traffic access and egress. The arguments that this activity was manageable were rejected by the planning commissioners and so the decision that must be observed by council until it is overturned by the environment court is that the access has to be resolved. Pedestrian access isn’t legally required (though its omission is noted). But let’s say that by building a tunnel to the site or some such thing the developers devise a means of meeting the traffic objections. Then the proposal will not fall foul of this condition of consent. It wouldn’t mean that it wouldn’t fall foul of many of the others and these would all be tested in a court; and I agree that it would be more difficult to win because then it would be the citizens against the city rather than with the city against the developers.

    But when the proposal is adjudged to have met the traffic issues, then it goes to the urban planners. Once again the urban planners have to ensure that whatever is agreed to overcomes the objections that were accepted by the planning commission as valid, legitimate. (Otherwise the new proposal would be contestable.) The building was accepted to be contrary to the values of the plan because of its height, design and cladding; it created turbulence; it caused shading. Whatever comes up as an option is going to have to be a great deal smaller and designed to reflect the heritage values of the surroundings. The Harbourside zone has design guidelines and it would be reasonable to impose the same guidelines on this building since the site will be effectively included in that zone (I know they haven’t made a decision about this yet but why wouldn’t it be?) If the city believes that the new design could meet the objections that have legal sway, then the developers will be asked if they could live with the new much smaller proposal.

    I suspect they couldn’t but if a building that accorded with the design guidelines of the harbourside-zone were designed of 4 above-ground storeys (12m), on a floorplan of perhaps 20x120m then I suspect I could. I would even consider a design with a central tower of ca 15x25m (enough for 4 units and service shafts) going up perhaps to 30-35m (10-11 floors) and a pair of shorter towers (max height (24m) at either end of the same floorplan. While having reservations about the fracturing of the provision of that sort of service, I could live with a building of this sort of bulk; it might afford 160 units – less than half the original – could the developers? Could you?

  23. Peter

    If the rectangular box shape and height of the hotel is to remain the same, as the lady insists on, could someone please give me some clues as to how the design could be ‘revamped’? Excuse my lack of imagination. (Surely it would still need lots of glass for people to see through as it would kind of restrict the magnificent views from the rooms, eh.) Maybe they can stick some daggy, twirly bits off the sides of the building for a more interesting, visual impact?

    • Given the value of the land and the small footprint at 41 Wharf Street, Betterways/Wharf Street Property (or other vehicle, named but blacked out in the MOU, able to grant a covenant over the land) still have to go for building height. And of course they are.
      They want a tower and will try any means they can afford (now gloriously bolstered by DCC coffers – our rates money).
      When Liability Cull, and his ‘brat team’ councillors want a carrot or a penile projection at the waterfront, damn, they’re going to lay in all the red carpet to help Ms Song walk it, on her ten-inch stilettos.

  24. ro

    The lady does insist, doesn’t she. But that design has been scuppered by the planning decision. It’s a dead parrot. She can’t revive it until or unless that planning decision is overturned. In the meantime, if anything is to proceed it is to be a new proposal, one that addresses the issues found wanting in the planning decision.

  25. Hype O'Thermia

    Ro, I understand the valid points you make about the conditions that would have to be met. What I also remember is the way the stadium’s “lines in the sand” vanished, as with the incoming tide. Rules, conditions are not like gravity. Made by humans, changeable by humans. Think, retrospective permissions for activities that do not comply with the District Plan, that were undertaken in defiance of the District Plan by people who had no excuse of not knowing what the rules were.
    Look also at the difference between these, and the heavy hand of the DCC on those property owners whose garages extended onto council land and had been so for many many years, from so far back that everyone assumed the boundary was where it looked as if it should be. Suddenly someone in the DCC finds documentation proving they’re wrong and BANG! Hit ’em hard. Different strokes…………
    I am not convinced by your sense, Ro. We are not looking at consistent sensible people making responsible sensible decisions here.

  26. ro

    Time will tell, Hype. I think this is different from the stadium because a statutory process has already rejected the proposal. I’m sorry that the developers believe it’s a stadium-like decision to be granted at the whim of a politician because it’s that belief that encourages them to continue the game of bluff.

  27. Here’s the politics of the MOU wrote large (Note you will get no say on design matters having been a submitter or a party to appeal – this is about change of use via the zoning tool which precludes any need for resource consent, because if re-zoned for the use, the activity will most certainly be compliant – all it comes down to then is an indication of footprint and bulk… there will be nothing for opponents to get their teeth into, the Betterways-DCC “team” will make sure there is little to wrangle unless opponents wish to argue points of law at Environment Court and that is a slippery slope in trying to oppose your own council’s ratepayer-funded resources to win the day. No-one is giving up. The fight will get dirty, and we have to hope there are sufficient people to back and fund a winning team in opposition, with experts that truly shine.):

    A new version of Dunedin’s controversial waterfront hotel could be unveiled before the end of the year, after the developer struck a deal with the Dunedin City Council.
    […] It was possible the council could eventually find itself back in the Environment Court, facing an appeal against the plan change, but the process would be more onerous for opponents trying to stop the hotel, Dr Bidrose said. Unlike the existing appeal, opponents would be on the opposite side of the argument to the council, and would have to do more of the work themselves – and carry more of the cost – rather than simply backing the council’s position, she said.


    I’m with property owners Steve Macknight and Geoff Thomson. Peter has a good institutional memory.

    Supporters happy but others not convinced
    Supporters of Dunedin’s proposed waterfront hotel are celebrating news of a deal to progress the controversial project. However, opponents of the project – including two Dunedin heritage building owners – are questioning whether it really changes anything.

  28. Despite some saying that this ‘hotel’ is not like the stadium, I beg to disagree. The stadium was put forward on the basis that a substantial amount of the funding would be recovered from pre selling of seats and corporate facilities.
    This ‘hotel’ (which to be true is a hotel plus apartment building) has been presented as being a ‘five star’ establishment which will be financed in large part by the forward selling of one hundred and sixty odd upmarket apartments. Get the connection? The only difference is that the proposal is supposedly privately funded. Like the stadium, where is the real market for these apartments? Two or three perhaps, but 160!!? My prediction is that the DCC in their urge to get this thing going will spend untold amounts of citizens’ treasure in trying to promote it, but at the end of the day, it won’t happen. The real danger is that it will get the green light, Ms Song and Hubby’s enthusiasm will, like Malcolm and Peter Chins’ forge ahead until it hits a brick wall, of money not flowing due to lack of apartment sales. Result: a mouldering heap of unfinished construction on our waterfront, with the Chinese folk nowhere to be seen.

  29. Rob Hamlin

    Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about this is the precedent that it sets. The MOU essentially commits the Council to make it happen by whatever means and by whatever council costs are necessary. The ludicrous conflict of interest that this sets up between the Council as developer regulator and Council as developer agent is breezily dismissed early on. If the DCC fails to deliver what the developer wants, then they (we) get to pay all the developer’s costs too. Thereby setting up a situation with considerable motive for the developer to increase the toxicity of this regulatory ‘poison pill’ by inflating these costs a la Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust.

    There is nothing in this document that indicates why it is a special case or anything that defines it as a ‘one off’. This means that the next time a large developer wants to carve up rural zoned land on the Taieri or build an exclusive shooting resort next to the Albatross Colony all they have to do is download the .pdf of this MOU from McPravda’s website, replace Jing Song’s name with their own and present it to Cull and Bidrose with a request to ‘please sign this forthwith’. I can see no legal grounds on the basis of equity of treatment of development proposals by the territorial authority upon which Cull and Bidrose could reasonably refuse to do so. Refusal would therefore promptly lead to court action.

  30. And that, Calvin, has been the pattern of such developments world over. Grab the money and run early in the construction process. Even Trump is guilty of same.

  31. ro

    All of Calvin’s gloomy predictions could well come to pass. And I have no quarrel with Elizabeth’s assessment of the rezoning process. My quarrel is with the assumption that new zoning regulations will be described to allow the current proposal with only the most minor of modifications to proceed. It’s my belief, inferred from, among other things, Dave’s response to Chris Morris in yesterday’s press conference (that the city couldn’t simply introduce a plan change to allow this development to go ahead because it would be open to objection that the statutory process was being bypassed) that the proposal that has the zoning regulations re-described to allow it has to be a very different creature.

  32. Hype O'Thermia

    That’s the Dave Cull who was dead against the stadium, who said when he first stood for mayor that he was prepared to hand over only enough money to make it workable? The Dave Cull who quickly became all chain no spine?
    And you take his words seriously now?
    Me: once bitten….

  33. ro

    He said something like: all the impediments to its going ahead would continue to exist and so, “frankly, it would be appealed”. It doesn’t matter who said it because it’s true.

  34. Peter

    Where’s Hagaman in all this now? He must feel threatened with his own hotels facing competition from Jing’s Box. Presumably he has some cash in the kitty to fight this.

  35. Even if he was feeling challenged, Peter, he cannot be or look to be “trade competition” – besides, to date his company, Capri Enterprises Ltd, as a submitter on the consent application and a s274 party to the Environment Court appeal (which is still current), has been more than diligent on matters that can be decided via the Resource Management Act. Capri have barrister John Hardie of Christchurch representing their property interests; Mr Hardie has only recently noted to Judge Jackson the need to look at height, and the Judge’s direction in this regard is still to be met by Betterways. In light of the MOU there is nothing to see until facts are arrived at through the process it defines – I would be surprised though if someone wasn’t of a mind to investigate the legals of the MOU as it is presented.

  36. Peter

    ‘Even if he was feeling challenged, Peter, he cannot be or look to be “trade competition”’… Yes, I guess so, Elizabeth. (cough)

    • You’ll agree (for this one anyway), we need Capri and its experts more than Capri needs us. it will be interesting where ORC (also, with experts) goes from here.

      I’m bound to say the DCC’s urban design expert (young blood from Auckland) will be in the Betterways-DCC mix somewhere, not for particularly good reasons other than flying his own academic/practitioner kite.

      And note too – no community representatives on the so-called urban design panel (What is Good Urban Design ?! … ask the various UD toolkits from here and abroad). I expect this UDP to be a travesty – where boys look after boys.

  37. Peter

    Totally agree, Elizabeth. Funny where people land at times. That’s life, I guess.
    Sticking a 27 storey, rectangular, glass box in the heart of an historic precinct, will take a bit of work ‘to satisfy all parties’ in terms of urban design. Maybe they will put a different top to the building….maybe a Chinese, temple style, golden tiled roof that ties in with the Chinese Garden nearby and our Gold Rush history? Noice.

  38. Peter, I expect a skateboard ramp flying off the “bridge” and into the pond at the Chinese Garden. If anything to bring life to the aquatics. Giving connectivity.

    • Peter

      Inspired and.. dare l say it….. visionary.

      • It’s like the vision of how to make a 27-storey tower DISAPPEAR through use of ‘special cheap glass from China’ – the kind that won’t create extreme glare for surrounding buildings and community, that won’t come crashing off the tower in high wind conditions famous for that site, and which means an undisturbed view of the harbour from the City Rise and Waverley. So many tricks learned in a BCom degree from Otago, or whatever it was that endeared Ms Song to our to-be-blighted shores.

  39. ### March 11, 2014 – 7:09pm
    Split reactions to hotel decision
    Both congratulations and disbelief have followed the latest episode in the saga of the multi-million dollar Dunedin hotel. The responses to the agreement between the DCC and developers to work together to make the hotel happen are along expected business and heritage lines. And both have strong views on the issue.

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