Thursday, June 06, 2013

Bravo Dunedin City Council!

Proposed hotel in Dunedin (photo from Radio NZ website)
I was pleased to read the Dunedin City Council decided not to try to turn Dunedin into the Gold Coast. They refused an application to build a huge and unimaginative glass box hotel on the waterfront which would have dwarfed the rest of the city.

The builders of these boxes offer glossy pictures and marvelous stories  of tourist bonanzas but the reality is different. Just consider the Mantra Complex in Ettalong Beach, an hour train ride north of the Sydney CBD.

Mantra Complex in Ettalong, NSW
Residents of Ettalong village didn't want a swank hotel in their neighbourhood but the Gosford City Council dreamt of glitz and riches and overruled them. They approved the Mantra Hotel and many investors believed the hype about it being an investors dream and bought an apartment in the complex. (It operates as a serviced hotel.)

Nowadays those investors tell a different story. They cannot get rid of their investment, no matter what price they put on it and I have heard people who live there feel trapped as they cannot sell. Just look online at the apartments for sale. In Sydney the majority of 2 bedroom apartments sell for between $450,000 and $800,000 while the 2 bedroom apartments at the Mantra are selling for less than $200,000. The other day I saw an ad for a nice apartment there for $135,000.

The Gosford City Council is unrepentant and recently approved a second complex at Ettalong. There is definitely something wrong with our local government system (infiltrated by developers no doubt) when such travesties are foisted on local people against their will.

Dunedin, be grateful you have a sensible council that listens to its people. (Perhaps the Stadium debacle has resulted in a more community centric council?)

Looking up the Leith River in Dunedi.
(Painted on a wooden square grid.)
Dunedin has such a glorious setting and offers so many heritage and environmental pleasures that would have been compromised by a huge ungainly box.

If someone wants to build a hotel, let them build something with dignity, but no higher than these University of Otago buildings that I used as part of my 'grid' project in first year of art school.

1 comment:

digitalliz said...

The applicants were totally uncompromising in their approach - it was this scale of building on this site or nothing. There are many who think Dunedin is showing the rest of the world they are closed for business! The council had to refuse it because the application broke their own rules in the District Plan. An article today in the ODT by Peter Entwhistle uses the university buildings as a model as you have shown yourself in your grid painting.