Backpacker hostel plan dropped

Hopes to set up a backpackers’ hostel on Broadway Ave in Palmerston North have been aborted because the recently reviewed District Plan rules for the central city demand higher standards.

Building planner Jeff Twigge said his Asian clients, who had wanted to invest in Palmerston North, walked away from the backpackers development because the rules were too strict.

Their restaurant near Princess St is going ahead, but the ground floor rooms out the back toward King St will not.

They were one of the first developers to come up against changed rules for the inner business zone that require ‘‘a high standard of amenity’’ for residential accommodation.

Council planners did not approve the proposed hostel because it did not have windows for all its rooms.

Council planner David Murphy said residential accommodation in the central city was to be encouraged.

‘‘But our concern is that it is of appropriate design.

‘‘We don’t have a problem with backpackers accommodation as such, that’s supported.’’

Mr Twigge believed it was a mistake to apply residential dwelling unit rules to the sort of low-cost, short-stay arrangements typical of a backpackers’ hostel.

He said the planners wanted to see windows, an awareness of outdoor space, courtyards and balconies.

‘‘Backpackers don’t need any of this.

‘‘It is transient accommodation for one, two or three nights.’’

He considered it was unreasonable that a building plan that met the requirements of the building code could be declined because planners did not like the look of it.

Broadway retailer Ralph Bare said it was disappointing a developer wanting to bring more life into Broadway had been turned away.

‘‘It sounds like almost every box was ticked.’’

He said it was ‘‘pretty frightening’’ such an arbitrary decision could be made interpreting the rules in a way that discouraged someone from investing in Palmerston North.

Manawatu Standard