Commissioners have given the thumbs-up to a big new hotel “in the heart” of Glenorchy, although there’s still the possibility their decision could be appealed.
Developer Douglas Rickard-Bell wants to build the Grand Mount Earnslaw Hotel on the site once occupied by the old Mount Earnslaw Hotel, which burned down in 1959.
In December, Queenstown council-appointed commissioners Ian Munro and Lisa Mein heard from 13 submitters in support and 70 opposed.
Their decision relates to a 52-room facility with five ancillary, commercial-hospitality buildings, a boatshed with more accommodation, a day spa facility and other smaller buildings.
A considerable amount of earthworks would be needed to raise the site above flood level.
The proposal was refined as a result of submissions, several concerned with the hotel’s height and scale, which made it a “non-complying activity”.
The commissioners acknowledged the concerns of the township’s residents, saying: “For some, the proposal represents a very threatening and adverse outcome.”
But assessed against district plan rules, it’s “not excessive or unacceptable”.
Rosie Ferris submitted the hotel be a replica of the original hotel, and Bruce Farmer, for Sustainable Glenorchy, said the hotel should “better reflect” the township’s community plan.
However, the commissioners were persuaded the hotel would be “something of a landmark destination”.
“We find the scale of the building will not result in adverse effects that are more than minor.
“We find the proposal is acceptable within its context, and that it is not of an inappropriate scale or design.
“The building can be accommodated in a way that will be visually prominent, but not visually dominant or overbearing.”
Much of the evidence revolved around the natural hazards of the 8079sqm site, including flooding, but the commissioners rejected an Otago Regional Council call for more investigative work to be done.
“We find that a no-more-than-minor level of adverse effects is likely in relation to natural hazards, and in light of the level of risk tolerance and acceptance that exists in Glenorchy.
“These effects have been reasonably mitigated by the applicant.”
The consent’s been granted subject to 63 detailed conditions.
It’s subject to appeal to the Environment Court for 15 working days, counting from May 19.