Expert grilled at skyscraper hearing

An expert planner received a grilling from a hearings committee today as a waterfront skyscraper is considered for Dunedin.

Betterways Advisory Ltd has lodged an application with the Dunedin City Council to build a 27 storeyed hotel and apartment building on  Industrial 1  land at  41 Wharf St.

A submission by Dunedin environmental consultant Megan Justice supported other experts previously submitting for the opposed Capri Enterprises Ltd.

However, hearings committee commissioner John Lumsden told Justice he believed her submission carried her own views, with actual planning advice not appearing until later in the document.

Lumsden interrupted Justice when she tried to respond, saying he was not asking a question but making a comment.

Two other members of the four-strong hearings committee Crs Kate Wilson and Colin Weatherall also addressed Justice on the parts of her submission.

Justice had raised concerns in her submission about the scale and height of the development. She said 96m was out of scale with the rest of that part of Dunedin. She also covered the project's non-compliance as an activity in an industrial zone.

Wilson put to Justice the height of tall silos, prominent on the Dunedin foreshore.

''Those would be something that could have been contemplated and go on that [industrial] site as of right? '' she asked the planner.

Wilson also forced Justice to defend her calculation of shading effects. Justice said she had considered all data carefully, telling Wilson her calculations were ''really conservative''. A considerable area would be shaded from 2pm [daily],'' Justice said.

Weatherall pressed Justice on whether the development could be considered a service activity which is a complying activity in the Industrial Zone under the Dunedin District Plan.

''One of the permitted activities is service. What would you call a hotel?'' Weatherall asked.

She replied the development comprised apartments and  accommodation. It was therefore commercial-residential.

Weatherall further pushed the subject, saying he was talking about a hotel with bars and restaurants.

Justice repeated,  the activity would be classed as commercial- residential. Effects of the development would be more than minor, in some cases, they would be significant, Justice said. Some data in the application that related to effects was inadequate, she said.

In her submission Justice noted she agreed with a recommendation by Dunedin City Council planner Lianne Darby the project in its current form be declined resource consent.

Capri owns properties near the proposed development site but had taken a city- wide view to assess effects, the company's  representative Christchurch lawyer John Hardie said.

A senior environmental consultant with planning and environmental consultancy Mitchell Partnerships for 13 years, Justice has a Masters degree in Regional and Resource Planning from Otago University and is a full member of the New Zealand Planning Institute.

D Scene