Chamber’s Own Goals —Heritage

Peter McIntyre and John Christie from the Otago Chamber of Commerce had lots to say about the rejuvenation of Dunedin’s heritage fabric and the city’s “vibrancy” after their trip to Portland, Oregon in 2011. What they said then is directly contradicted by the Chamber’s submission on the application for resource consent to redevelop the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Building (31-33 Thomas Burns Street) for residential use.

ODT 8.10.11 Otago Chamber of Commerce [] rip

Full annotated copy | CoC Own Goals – Heritage (PDF 1.51 MB)

Related Posts and Comments:
11.8.14 NZ Loan and Mercantile Building (audio)
8.8.14 NZ Loan and Mercantile Agency Co Ltd Building…

█ For more, enter the terms *loan and mercantile* or *harbourside* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, COC (Otago), Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Innovation, Inspiration, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

26 responses to “Chamber’s Own Goals —Heritage

  1. Jacob

    You should read Christie’s submission on behalf of the Chamber, on the need for Industrial land on the Taieri about 10 years ago.
    The urgent need for this land that we had to sacrifice our highclass productive soils, and rural employment opportunities for industrial use.
    We are still waiting for industry to come, and the land lies unproductive with an industrial zoning.
    It has left an ugly scar on what was once a rural environment.
    The Chamber are no more than puppets for the local tartan mafia to pull the strings.

  2. The problem with planning is “planning”. The planners are so intent on their navels that they can’t understand why it is that the world isn’t like that. The classic example here was the exercise run by former Cr Malcolm Farry and council manager Peter Brown wherein it was envisaged that if land was designated around Fisher & Paykel’s Mosgiel factory then subsidiary industries would cluster. At one stage Peter Brown raved about the queue of business coming down the motorway to take up residence in the estate. When I asked him to name one, he said they were so close he could smell them but if he told me he would have to kill me. Anybody seen the influx, other than F&P’s exit to Mexico? But the land is still there waiting. All because of planning to manipulate the market. The market is a nebulous entity which will always do what ‘IT’ needs to do when it needs to do it. Planners don’t understand that.

  3. Elizabeth

    ODT 13.8.14 (page 14)ODT 13.8.14 Letters to the editor Forbes p14 (2)

    ODT 14.8.14 (page 6)ODT 14.8.14 Letters to the editor Dickie Allen p6 [click to enlarge]

  4. Peter.

    Two excellent letters from two men who show a lot more sense than the COC. The COC has a propensity to pick losers in this city supporting certain businessmen with dubious business acumen and personal integrity.
    Isn’t it time for COC members to reform the organisation or, if this is not possible, quit it?

  5. Elizabeth

    Pssst. Everything augurs well for a good outcome at hearing. Shhhh.

  6. Elizabeth

    ODT 16.8.14 (page 30)
    ODT 16.8.14 Letters to the editor Stratton p30 (1)

  7. Meanwhile we have the bizarre situation where Crs, chair Kate Wilson, ‘heavyweight’ Benson-Pope, and Aaron Hawkins are adjudicating on a highly technical structural exercise on the John Wickliffe House. These are the sort of folk who have left the city in deep strife over the St Clair Sea Wall, due to unqualified people having the power to make silly recommendations. The missing link here is all due to Jim Harland dis-establishing the ‘in house’ engineering and building services division. None of this sort of crap would have gone on in the days of George Armstrong and his team. Instead we are in the hands of consultants and shonky advisers reporting to the blind. It’s called democracy.

  8. Elizabeth

    ODT reporting far from balanced in exploring the application and evidence presented at hearing:

    Demolition threatened; job loss possibility raised
    A Dunedin City Council panel yesterday started considering an application from Russell Lund to convert the top floor of the Loan and Mercantile building, in the city’s industrial waterfront area. […] Mr Lund reminded the panel he had a legal right to make a viable income from his building. […] Esco counsel Daniel Clay said all port and industrial activities in the area would likely have to spend significant amounts to mitigate their currently acceptable environmental effects.

    Building a rarity
    The Loan and Mercantile Building in Dunedin is the most significant 19th century warehouse building remaining in the country, art and architectural historian Peter Entwisle says.

  9. Elizabeth

    ODT 19.8.14 (page 6)
    ODT 19.8.14 Letters to the editor Lund Liddell Milburn p6.jpg

  10. Hype O'Thermia

    If there are currently difficulties around contracting out of “reverse sensitivity” isn’t that where the work needs to start? Either in the district plan or elsewhere, there is a need for new uses within established areas, without killing off the primary purpose of these areas.
    Dunedin can’t be the only place in NZ where buildings exist that are no longer suited to their original purpose. The danger of doing nothing is plain to see, demolitions, businesses forced to close or relocate. Relocation may be tip the balance between continuing or closing permanently, between staying in that town and shifting to another – or offshore.

    Mixed use is great. I can’t see any downsides. Even (re Loan & Merc) that at times there may be trucks coming and going very early and late – what’s the problem? How is this different from living in the ‘burbs with neighbours who come and go early and late, stereos thumping? At least in an industrial area most of the time noise is consistent, it’s not noise for the sake of loudness. Compare with party animals, music till even the amplifiers bleed, partygoers turning into Shouty Sams effing and blinding at higher and higher volume as their alcohol content rises, bottles smashing, then eventually the exodus of loud vehicles to the accompaniment of more yahooing and the blare of “music”.

    • Peter

      Hype. You need to move to a nice white collar suburb with white collar crime. These people look far more urbane and carry out their activities quietly under your nose. You don’t even have to call in noise control.

  11. Rob Hamlin

    Mixed industrial residential use only works if the resido’s don’t complain the industry out of existence – after which it ceases to be mixed use. Resido’s actually have a motive to complain as the exit of industry actually increases the value of their property. Developers have a motive to complain, as exit of industry clears more sites for further profitable resido development


    1985 Rob Hamlin was managing a piggery employing 10 local people and producing 7,000 bacon pigs a year. It was occupying 12 acres of prime Oxfordshire countryside. The piggery had once been in open country, but resido’s had squeezed in past green belt laws and complaints began to rise. Company who owned piggery became aware that resido complaining was coordiinated and a prime motivation was increase in property value.

    Enter developer who realised that closing Hamlin’s piggery would not only increase value of resido’s property, but would also release 12 acres of land for residential development (after tidying away unsightly buildings and unsightly blue collar locals & their jobs of course).

    Developer realised that piggery had a vulnerability. Access was by a narrow road with berm on either side that was actually privately owned. Trucks had to swing over small corner of lawned berm to access piggery.

    Developer bought one of these properties at a whopping premium (take the money now and piss off offer) and erected a large brick wall right to edge of berm, thus denying access to trucks carrying food in and pigs out to the South. All trucks now had to travel 10 km further to deliver/pick up.

    Developer tried to buy other property in similar manner, which would have cut piggery off completely and shut it down. Owner looked at offer and asked large international company who owned piggery if they would like to counter offer. Company did so, due to value of piggery to global export operations and difficulty of replacement in Oxfordshire which was by now full of litigious banker/weekend countrymen.

    Offer accepted and Rob Hamlin and his mates kept their jobs – which was not the usual outcome in such situations. UK pig industry (the second largest in Europe when Hamlin worked there) now no longer exists – UK dependent on imports for food, and now has no effective navy – will shortly discover that credit default swaps, Italian bathrooms and AGA’s cannot be eaten. Large company was headquartered about 5 km from farm – now headquartered in San Francisco – loss of 100+ jobs in head office alone in UK.

    The latest ODT article indicates that Lund is not really interested in covenants that would control complaints – he is ‘reluctant’ to use them as a condition for approval. Many believe, and in my opinion rightly so that approval of his apartments without these will lead to closure of adjoining industry and loss of high quality jobs.

    This city has to earn its living. if it comes to it. Jobs and industry are more important than architectural candyland theme parks for the well-off out of town/country occasional resident.

  12. Rob Hamlin

    The difference here is the covenants. It is actually very easy to write a totally watertight covenant. Here is an example:

    “As residential use is a non-complying activity in this industrial zone, the property owner agrees to make no complaint, either directly or via an agent to any authority about noise and emissions created by industrial activity within 300 metres of the property.”

    There. That was easy. Totally watertight. The problem with it from a developer’s point of view is that any property that carried such a covenant would be massively reduced in value. And hocking off for maximum dolleros is after all the residential developer’s primary motivation. If you can buy industrially zoned property at industrially zoned prices and then de-industrialise the neighbourhood by getting an uncovenanted residential block into said area and unleashing a blizzard of resido complaints then the dolleros become even more attractive to a developer as they can then buy up the unsaleable and unleasable (for industrial purposes at least) commercial corpses as the resido complaints gangrene spreads and landbank them in expectation of the inevitable rezoning to full residential or residential/commercial.
    Leaky, complex and hard to enforce covenants will not devalue a property to the same degree – if at all, as the sale of the property with a ‘born-to-be-broken’ covenant effectively comes with the inbuilt right for the new owner to put neighbouring businesses out of business pronto by a coordinated complaints campaign. You don’t even have to pay for the service. The Council who approved the leaky covenant in the first place will put the local yokels out of employment on your behalf gratis. Remember the brickworks?
    Any developer that is proposing to put residential development into a heavy industrial employment zone (as this is), and is resisting covenants that will protect said industry and its jobs plus revenue from complaints is effectively aiming to turn other people’s jobs and this city’s livelihood into their own personal profit.
    So – if Russell Lund is offering us a straight choice between demolition, or development with a leaky/non-existent residential complaint covenant? – I would go with demolition every time.  However, I suspect that these are not really the only two options available – just the two most profitable ones.

  13. Elizabeth, Strepsils might be your answer. What Rob outlines might not be palatable, but then neither is the prospect of job losses. DCC might find itself on the ‘horns of a dilemma’, requiring the wisdom of Solomon, and he has left for the coast.

  14. Elizabeth

    How an application for resource consent reads and how it is elaborated and mediated in discussion with opposing submitters is the point of interest.
    For instance, KiwiRail has no objection to the application – it is perhaps one of the most reverse sensitivity savvy corporates in the country; and this week Port Otago Ltd has stated it will withdraw objection if district plan Rule 26.8.8 is imposed as a condition, with regard to reverse sensitivity to noise. The applicant has successfully described to these major objectors how design and construction will mitigate adverse effects in regards to the receiving environment.

    I was informed today, in reply to my request, that evidence of all parties will be posted at the DCC website anon.

    We now stand adjourned while the panel awaits further information such like detail on ORC standards and monitoring for noise and air emissions in that location, as against complaints received (ORC/DCC/local operators), and more.

    The Hearing Committee’s site visit this morning included the subject site (NZ Loan and Mercantile Building), ESCO and Farra – Kaan’s wasn’t explored and a site visit may occur later.

  15. Peter

    Lund’s threat, as reported in the ODT, to tear the building down, if he does not get what he wants, does not seem to strengthen his case. While I can understand his point to some degree, concerning having to further carry the can for a 40 year idle building, what was the point? It is not a constructive way to go.
    He either loves the building and wants to restore it with an option that satisfies all parties….. or he doesn’t. Does the building have to be restored.. just for apartments? Jing Song got her tits in a tangle over insisting on a hideous 28 storey hotel that so many people hated and opposed. Lund would be best to cool off.

    • Elizabeth

      What ODT conveniently left off was the consenting context that Mr Lund’s comment derived from on comparison for heritage buildings – if this consent was an application for demolition how quickly this could be effected via DCC. ODT has no planning expertise in order to understand his technical argument.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      I don’t understand you, Peter : “He either loves the building and wants to restore it with an option that satisfies all parties….. or he doesn’t.”
      Only a multi-squillionaire could go around buying and restoring buildings without needing to get a return on investment. Besides what’s the point of a beautifully restored building standing empty and requiring security to safeguard it from vandals and squatters? If he is forbidden to make the building re-usable – and with all those pillars and the mechanisation of industry it’s not the easiest place to refit – he cannot be expected to plunge himself into penury for the sake of restoring the building, no matter how much he loves the building.
      Sure there are some industries that could fit well into the space, but not many, so the chance that one or more will come along wanting to locate in that space and pay a realistic amount for it, is very small indeed.

      • Peter

        Hype. I suggested whether the building could be reused for some other purpose (like day time offices, etc) if apartments didn’t turn out to be a goer. Better if he can still get a good return on some other ‘fit for purpose’ refit, that covers his costs, rather than threatening to tear down the building. (Of course, I don’t personally know whether this is feasible, but just asking.)
        What would he put in its place? A carpark?

  16. Phil

    I wonder if Russell Lund is aware that there is already at least one mixed-use precedent in the same vicinity as his building ? Back in around 2007, a somewhat shadowy small time developer turned his Port Otago land building into student apartments. Building Control granted consent, but the application managed to slip past City Planning. From memory, he actually applied for building consent to create “offices”, which was a permitted activity, and then just moved in beds instead of desks. You would think that the building consent application showing a toilet and kitchen in each “office” might have alerted Building Control at the time. Some time later, one of the residents lodged a noise complaint with regard to the steel fabrication workshop next door. At that point it was picked up by the compliance team within City Planning that the building owner did not have resource consent to operate residential dwellings. The developer responded by applying for a retrospective resource consent. City Planning opposed the granting of the consent based on the reverse sensitivity issue which had already caused a problem. The developer countered by claiming that, under Jim Harland’s proposed Harbourside vision, his residential activity would soon become a permitted activity which would not require planning consent. A retrospective consent based on possible future conditions. A bizarre defence at best. So bizarre, in fact, that the then head of the Planning Committee advised City Planning that consent should be granted as Jim Harland’s plan was going to happen. So bizarre, in fact, that City Planning signed off on it as a non-notified consent application. Which meant of course that the neighbouring businesses had no input into the process. I don’t think that the law of precedent applies with regard to the RMA, but it does carry a lot of weight internally and with the planning hearings committee. The name of the developer escapes me for now but, if I recall correctly, he was the same guy who tried to get around the tobacco advertising ban by naming his South Dunedin store after a tobacco product.

    • Elizabeth

      The matter of consented and non-consented residential activity on the harbourside came up at hearing today once or twice as covenants and complaints were discussed by opposing submitters. Not forgetting, in submission by Mr Kaan, that Cr Doug Hall has an apartment property in the area.

  17. Rob Hamlin

    I can see no issue with Lund having his apartments – Just as long as there is a watertight enforceable covenant in place to prevent the new use interfering with local industry, either via complaints triggered enforcement activity or just by continual harassment by complaints that have no hope of final enforcement.

    This might mean some of direct ‘written in’ come back on individuals who harass by complaints knowingly lodged in breach of covenants. Maybe $500 per complaint lodged in breach payable to the target complained against claimable via the Small Claims Court. – This harassment by complaint regardless of covenant I presume is the ‘enforcement’ issue mentioned by Lund. If this can’t be done or enforced – then consent for this non-complying residential activity should not be issued.

    Oh, and they will need to provide parking for residents (2 x per apartment) as part of the development for the same reason. Cyclists may not like that, but having the place parked up right up to the entrances that trucks have to swing into is a real P.I.T.A.

  18. Elizabeth

    Do Debbie Porteous (our DCC reporter) and the editorial team now work for the Chamber.

    INTERESTING — “…. the chamber, chief executive John Christie said was representing the interests of companies in the area that did not want to be named (but he later conceded he was not acting on the resolution of the entire chamber) ….” (ODT)

    ### ODT Online Thu, 21 Aug 2014
    Businesses fear being driven out of area
    By Debbie Porteous
    It is a choice between buildings and jobs, a panel considering whether to allow apartments in a heritage building in Dunedin’s waterfront industrial area has been told. […] The hearing will be reconvened at a later date, when council planners will respond to submissions and Mr Lund will have right of reply.
    Read more

    Is it, an either or?
    On balance I would say it’s about about buildings, jobs, the Dunedin City District Plan, the Resource Management Act, and the application of technical design solutions – in combination. Mitigated by KiwiRail and Port Otago both of whom have withdrawn their objections subject to the application meeting their specified conditions. Powerful stuff. More later.

  19. Rob Hamlin

    I think that the COC make the point well. When one looks at it, my earlier position was over optimistic. There is no down side to harassment of business with regard to existing activities, so it will happen – covenant or no covenant – and if (God forbid) these companies want to modernise, change or expand their activities (as they inevitably will do if they don’t want to become an industrial relic like Hillside), then it’s open slather at the the consents hearings (a kind of warped revenge if you will).

    I have no idea where Lund gets this idea, reported earlier, that he has a God given (or at least legal) right to secured capital and a guaranteed return on his capital investment in this commercial property. It’s a similar line to the one being trotted out by that character who wants to flatten a similar heritage building in central Wellington.

    The investors in Hanover and other finance companies to name but one non-property capital investment certainly enjoyed no such rights or protection. They lost their shirts, as have many others in this country who have tried to invest in productive manufacturing enterprise rather than investment in existing non-productive real estate assets. Yer takes yer punts and yer takes yer risks, and I cannot see why property speculators should be uniquely privileged in our capitalist society.

    Indeed a few burnt fingers among this unlovely community might actually be beneficial by a return to a situation where the average Joe can afford to buy the average house.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s