Old and new: A digital drawing of the planned development

Work’s officially started on a massive project behind a couple of historic Arrowtown cottages, designed to future-proof them.

Dudley’s Cottage owner Scott Stevens and his business partner, developer John Guthrie, have spent 18 months working on plans for a new building, which will be dug into a massive bank behind the gold-mining era cottages.

The new building’s been designed by local architect Maurice Orr, who’s also responsible for The Shed, on the same site.

Stevens says the cut will be substantial so the new building will ultimately be “three-quarters buried” into the bank, which will also make sure the open space on the site’s not affected.

He’s had to consult the Arrowtown planning advisory group, because the site’s in the heritage zone, and, because they’re classified, get Heritage New Zealand approval.

Lastly, he had to satisfy an independent council consultant.

Future-proofing: Dudley’s Cottage owner Scott Stevens, of Arrowtown, pictured outside the historic site

Recommendations included highlighting the old cottages more, so “modern additions” will be removed or altered.

The tin surrounding a veranda, for example, will be removed, the veranda extended and the surrounds replaced with glass to give a better view of the cottage, while still protecting the original walls.

At the rear of the front cottage was the bathroom and laundry of the old residence, which had completely rotted out, so that’ll be completely removed.

“Then when you come back around behind the property, you’ll see a lot more of the second cottage,” Stevens says.

In part the work’s been driven by the surge in tourism numbers in Arrowtown.

Back in 2010, when Stevens bought Dudley’s, about 350,000 tourists a year visited the village – now there’s more than a million and the business isn’t really coping with the numbers.

Also, it wasn’t fit-for-purpose, particularly for the cafe, when pipes froze during the winter.

“So the plan is to basically future-proof it by putting another similar-styled building [to neighbouring building The Shed].”

The cafe will move into the new building, but till then it’ll run from a trailer at the front of the site, along with the gold pan hire business.

Better By Bike hire won’t be affected by the work, Stevens says.

While, ideally, the project would have been finished by now, he says it’s important to get it right, particularly given the historic nature of the existing buildings and prominence of the site.

“You can be absolutely sure once this thing’s built, you jump in your time machine and come back in 200 years’ time and look down at that site, it’s going to be there.

“Unless a massive earthquake intervenes, those buildings aren’t going anywhere.

“That’s the whole beauty of that heritage zone of Arrowtown, it means that people are going to be able to enjoy what we’re enjoying today in 200 years’ time.”

All going well, Stevens is expecting the project to be finished in six to eight months.