Residents lodge appeal over Petone Working Men's Club extension

BY SIMON EDWARDS
Last updated 12:05 16/11/2010

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An appeal to the Environment Court that could seriously delay a start on a $19 million hotel and conference centre development may be nipped in the bud.

On Monday last week, the Petone Urban Environment Association filed papers lodging an appeal over Hutt City Council granting resource consent for Petone Working Men's Club's 700-seat conference centre and 58-unit hotel.

Carl Bakker, a spokesman for the newly-formed group, said on Saturday that local residents felt driven to act against the council's "lack of co-ordinated planning" over developments along Udy St and surrounding streets.

In particular, he said, people were concerned the council was allowing PWMC to go ahead with a huge extension when the provision of off-street parking falls 170 spaces short of what the district plan stipulates.

Mr Bakker said residents recognise the conference centre and hotel will be good for the city, but wanted to push for a redesign so the extension and its parking requirements would be contained within an "envelope" of land owned by the club.

They may get what they want.

Club president Barry Priest told Hutt News yesterday the club is in the process of acquiring more adjacent land for parking.

He believes the plan for the conference centre and hotel is "the most exciting thing that has happened in the Hutt Valley for several years" and will look to meet the concerns of the Petone Urban Environmental Association to avoid delays on a construction start.

Mr Bakker said his group numbers more than the minimum 15 people to form such an incorporated society, with more likely to join.

The PWMC, with a membership which has grown from 2500 to more than 10,000 in the space of a few years, is just one organisation adding to parking pressure, noise and traffic issues around Udy St, he said.

The nearby Petone Mitre 10 Mega store has added a lot of traffic and in a non-notified procedure, Hutt City Council has just allowed the Imperial Tobacco company to switch from a eight-hour operation to 24-hour, with a new main exit onto Bouverie St.

The "cumulative effect" of such unco-ordinated developments is having a considerable impact on nearby residential streets, Mr Bakker said.

Even now, on busy nights, Udy St is filled with parked cars from Britannia St "virtually to Cuba St".

The evidence of people who have lived in the area for 20 to 30 years "doesn't seem to count (at hearings) against reports by traffic consultants", he said.

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