Residents unhappy about retirement home being redeveloped as motel
Residents living opposite an Oamaru rest home claim to have been left in the dark by the Waitaki District Council about plans to turn it into a motel.
"We are only being told what we find out ourselves," Reed St resident Murray Linwood said.
The council granted consent in late March for plans to convert the Rendell on Reed retirement home into a motel.
The proposed redevelopment would see capacity double from 55 to 110, which has residents concerned.
De Geest Properties was granted land use consent for the development in late March, a month after the application was lodged. It was not publicly notified.
In granting the application, the council said the "effects on the environment would be less than minor".
However several Reed St residents were left wondering why the council had not notified them of what they believe could be a big change to the street and its traffic flows.
Linwood said he was only notified once his neighbour, Bruce Johnston, started asking questions about the consent.
"The biggest issue is we don't know what or who they are going to fill the motel with.
"Are they going to put long-term families in there or tourists?" Linwood asked.
Another unknown was if De Geest would apply for liquor or food licences.
"We consider there is more than a minimal change stated in the consent," Linwood said.
"They said there won't be any extra traffic but that depends on the type of clientele they will have."
He also wondered where guests would park.
Linwood said the council claimed the amount of traffic through the property would be unchanged, as the elderly often had visitors. He disagreed.
"A lot of those people sit there week after week without visitors and very few of them have visitors.
"The options left for us are very restrictive. If we want to dispute we need to go to High Court," he said, an option ruled out by cost.
Johnston's wife, Kay, said they were concerned about how a facility that currently housed 55 people would try to cram in twice that number.
"We heard so many rumours so we rung up council but by that time it was too late."
She also had reservations about health and safety for children at nearby St Joseph's School.
"At 3pm on a weekday we have school buses and people picking up their children. I just don't go out, traffic at that time is bedlam.
"I am concerned about the children down there," she said.
The planned redevelopment was also affecting the couple's ability to sell their property, she claimed. They had listed it a few months ago and received several inquiries, but after consent was granted for the motel they had had no interest in the property.
"It is going to devalue the properties around here," she said.
Rendell on Reed was sold late last year, with the 40 current residents moving to the new Observatory Hill Retirement Village, due for completion later this year.
Waitaki District Council planning manager Peter Kloosterman said for the consent not to be notified, the effects on the environment would have to be less than minor. Council had prepared a Section 95 report pertaining to the Resource Management Act of 1991.
"All 55 of the rooms are proposed to be twin rooms, containing a double bed or two single," the report said.
"There will be no alterations or additions to the buildings or site at this stage."
The motel will operate from 7am to 9pm on weekdays and 9am to 5pm on weekends and public holidays.
Despite multiple attempts to contact De Geest managing director Brian de Geest over three days, he could not be reached for comment.