Guests to stay at St Bathans post office
A former St Bathans resident has been given the green light by the Conservation Department to turn the town's century-old post office into visitor accommodation.
The department, as the authority which managed the building, announced it would allow James Cameron, of Christchurch, a 10-year-concession to operate part of the 103-year-old building as commercial accommodation.
Last year the department approved a proposal from Mr Cameron in principle to turn the building into visitor accommodation after asking the public for ideas under an expression of interest process.
However, during a concession hearing, submitters to the plan raised concerns about the lack of public access and the changes to the historic fixtures and features of the building if the plan went ahead.
An enforcement order to stop building work was also lodged with the Environment Court by the St Bathans Heritage and Environment Preservation Trust under the Resource Management Act.
Trust secretary Catherine Spencer said the group lodged the application because "the post office is an iconic and totally unique example of a public building of the goldfields era and as such the proposal would be a huge loss of authentic cultural heritage".
In February the order was withdrawn after an agreement was reached to defer building.
Mr Cameron said he was "extremely pleased" to get the go-ahead after three years of hurdles, which included being subpoenaed to the Environment Court.
The building would be transformed into a boutique travellers' accommodation which would complement the area and strengthen St Bathans as a destination for travellers, Mr Cameron said.
A resource consent would need to be granted before work could start and Mr Cameron was unsure how long it would take to complete the upgrade, which involved making modifications to the building.Otago Conservancy acting conservator Alan McKenzie said the department's decision to approve the concession had taken all views into account and the public would have access to the ground floor of the building.
The concession would also include several reporting requirements regarding historic features and fittings, Mr McKenzie said.
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