Taupō high-rise hotel gets the nod after lengthy legal battle

Taupō high-rise hotel gets the nod after lengthy legal battle

BROOK SABIN
There is a lot happening in Taupō - you just need to look a little closer.

Taupō is set to get a high-rise hotel after lengthy legal battle finally cames to an end.

An Environment Court decision on Monday opens the door on taller buildings in tourist town's central business district. Previously the limit was three storeys.

Judge D A Kirkpatrick's judgement granted the consent filed by Cypress Capital Limited for a six-storey hotel, supported by the Taupō District Council and the five remaining parties to the appeal.

The appeal, no longer contested by any of the original objectors, was otherwise dismissed, said the judgement, and there had been no order for costs.

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An artist's conception of the eight-storey hotel proposal. The approved six-storey revision has dropped one basement level and two floors above ground. The rooftop pool and bar remain.
Supplied
An artist's conception of the eight-storey hotel proposal. The approved six-storey revision has dropped one basement level and two floors above ground. The rooftop pool and bar remain.

The permission to construct a six-storey hotel (including rooftop bar and pool) brings to an end a process that began in July 2018 with the original application for an eight-storey building at 29 Tuwharetoa Street.

That proposal, featuring three levels of basement car parking, ground floor retail space, six floors of hotel accommodation and a rooftop bar, spa, and pool, was turned down by three hearing commissioners who ruled the height and scale of the building was contrary to the district plan (which as of right allows for three storeys).

A subsequent revised application, the now approved six-storeys, then found council favour during a confidential meeting of the council in September 2019 – the final meeting before last year’s council elections.

That decision was not made public until an Official Information Act request by Stuff in April this year and how it was arrived at has been a bone of contention for some original objectors.

The proposed hotel will sit beside the Vine Eatery and opposite Finn MacCuhal's Irish Pub. However, the height has been reduced to six storeys.
Supplied
The proposed hotel will sit beside the Vine Eatery and opposite Finn MacCuhal's Irish Pub. However, the height has been reduced to six storeys.

The non-release of material presented to councillors in making that decision was one of a number of issues various objectors put before the Environment Court at the last minute in late May after the two final opposing appeal parties, Paul Henson and Cooper Family Investments, had withdrawn from the appeal.

However, Judge Kirkpatrick stated in his judgement that “much of the material concerned the internal decision-making processes of the council in respect of which this court has no jurisdiction and accordingly which I should not address.”

Council chief executive Gareth Green said on Monday he would be asking the council to release the relevant information at its council meeting on Tuesday .

While one of the organisers of the 11th hour approach to the court said he and others were still digesting the judgment, Green felt the judge’s decision vindicated the actions of the council and its staff when reaching a recommendation to support the revised application.

The six-storey hotel site is currently an empty lot on Taupo's Tuwharetoa Street in a part of the central business district that is home to a number of bars and eateries.
Chris Marshall/Stuff
The six-storey hotel site is currently an empty lot on Taupo's Tuwharetoa Street in a part of the central business district that is home to a number of bars and eateries.

The judgement noted: “In this case the council has assessed the relevant effects of the revised proposal and its change of position to agree to the granting of consent is now supported by expert evidence.”

It also said the evidence exchange process was transparent and that parties to the appeal were “made aware of the council's changed position in a timely fashion. Although the evidence was not heard by the court as no hearing occurred, I have read the statements of evidence and am satisfied that the resolution of this appeal has been reached through a reasoned process supported by relevant information...

“Accordingly, this is not a fully reasoned decision of the Court on the merits of the application for resource consent, but confirms the agreement reached between the parties.”

Green said the “council was prepared to support the revised proposal on the basis it addressed the concerns raised in the original decision.”

Cypress Capital Limited has yet to release a start date for construction on the now approved hotel.

Stuff

Source : Stuff.co.nz

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