Tirau’s castle expansion gets the go-ahead
Kelvin and Pamela Baker are flying high following news they can transform Tirau's iconic castle into an events centre.
The couple first came up with the idea to hold events at The Castle Pamela 18 months ago but the process was delayed in June due to neighbours who objected.
Five submitters appealed the application for a resource consent as they believed noise and traffic would be problematic.
The application suggested events would cater to large crowds of up to 300 during the day and 150 at night.
Despite the outcry the South Waikato District Council awarded the consent.Baker, a builder by trade, has already started with the soundproof gates which are part of the resource conditions. The idea came after a failed attempt at selling the castle two years ago.
Baker said if they could not sell then it was time to ''move forward''.
''We want to use it and get more out of is as well as developing the business... such a lot of shops in Tirau have closed,'' he said.
This is the second time the couple have faced off against neighbours. The Taranaki-born pair moved to the South Waikato 17 years ago to build the castle for their toy collection.
Sixty five-year old Baker said objections drew out the process and it took two years to gain the consent to build the castle.
A life-threatening heart tumour meant Baker wanted to secure a good future for Pamela. ''I wanted to leave an income for my wife before I left.''
Looking back he sees it as a blessing in disguise. During that time his tumour was successfully removed and he believes he would not have survived the building process otherwise.
''The objectors saved my life.''
Both were ''long processes'' but Baker said they succeeded because they are ''battlers''.
And this time around many residents have come forward with ''excitement'' over the upgrade, he said. Despite the new vision he said it will always be open for buyers.
If ''his price'' came along he would of course jump at the chance but he is not pinning his hopes on it.
''It hasn't sold before so it's unlikely,'' he said.
The event centre is expected to ''keep them busy'' over the next few years.Baker hoped the additions would be completed by summer.