Bridge creates unexpected journey
A bridge sturdy enough for a band of dwarfs heading off to fight a dragon almost fell victim to council red tape.
The stone bridge that Bilbo and his band cross as they leave Hobbiton was granted building consent by Matamata- Piako District Council in 2010.
But when the property's owner, Scottdale Farms, applied for a code of compliance so it could turn the set into a tourist attraction, the company was turned down because the bridge's barriers breached the Building Code.
Hobbiton Movie Set general manager Russell Alexander said he was "dumbfounded" by the refusal. "It was all signed off."
The Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry - incorporating the former Building and Housing Department - has now reversed the council's decision.
"In its intended use as a tourist destination, it is important that its appearance remains authentic to [how] it appeared in the film," ministry determinations manager John Gardiner said.
He concluded the bridge's barriers did comply with the Building Code, in that they were a safeguard from "injury from falling".
The bridge was built to a standard beyond that required by the building consent, and the council should have considered compliance issues when granting that consent, he said.
The bridge is 3.8 metres above the lake at its highest point.
Council community development group manager Dennis Bellamy said the building consent was issued on the agreement the bridge was brought up to the Building Code after filming.
The council would not comment on what improvements would have earned compliance.
Mr Alexander said the whole tourist attraction would be open in a few months.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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