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Hilton Hotel consent – hearing dates released

Hilton Hotel consent – hearing dates released

The officer’s report by Greater Wellington Regional Council on the proposed Hilton Hotel on the outer Queens Wharf was released today.

“The location for the proposed hotel, on outer Queens Wharf, is a significant public site and therefore we are taking great care over this application with regard to environmental aspects such as design, visual amenity, wind, noise and traffic effects,” said Al Cross, Acting Consents Manager for Greater Wellington.

“As a result of our assessment of the proposal the officer’s report recommends that the proposal be declined. The applicant and submitters will have the opportunity during the hearing to respond to the issues raised in the officer’s report, and it is then the role of the Hearing Committee to make the final decision.”

The hearing on the proposal to construct a five star Hilton Hotel will commence on Monday, 3 July 2006. The hearing is scheduled to last four weeks but could be extended if the applicant and submitters need more time to present their views fully.

The project looks to build a hotel on the wharf that will generally be within the existing Shed 1 footprint. The restaurant and bar on the ground floor will be open to the public, with increased lighting and seating in the surrounding wharf area.

Mr Cross said the site is in the coastal marine area, and under the Resource Management Act falls under the jurisdiction of Greater Wellington.

“Greater Wellington is managing the resource consents process, and has been working with Wellington City Council experts to ensure consistency with the Wellington City District Plan and the Wellington Waterfront framework.”

Almost 1000 submissions were received on the proposal, with 155 in support, 3 conditional, 2 neutral and 834 in opposition.

“The issues raised by submitters are many and varied,” said Mr Cross. “They include recognition that the site is a special and unique site, and any development must be of the highest standard.”

The members of the Hearing Committee are: Cr Chris Turver, Chairman of Greater Wellington’s Environment Committee, Cr Chris Laidlaw (Greater Wellington Councillor), Miria Pomare (iwi appointee), and David McMahon and Stuart Kinnear, two independent commissioners.

Hilton Hotel consent applications – officer’s report Q & A
What’s the Recommendation?

Greater Wellington Officer’s recommendation to the Hearing Committee is that the applications for the proposed hotel development in its current form be declined.

Why has GW recommended decline?

The adverse effects of the proposal in its current form will be more than minor (that is the proposed development will have significant adverse effects on the environment). In a number of areas, the proposal, as submitted, is not consistent with the purposes and principles of the Resource Management Act, the Wellington Regional Policy Statement, the Regional Coastal Plan, Wellington City District Plan or the Wellington Waterfront Framework.

While some effects have been appropriately addressed in the applications, there are other aspects which GW is not satisfied the proposal addresses adequately.

These include:

• Whether the building will be iconic and changes to the public space in the Queens Wharf area are appropriate, based on the limited design detail provided;

• Ensuring minimal conflict between pedestrians and traffic on Queens Wharf, both during construction and in the long term;

• Ensuring the design of the building does not significantly increase wind effects on pedestrians;

• Ensuring the building design allows for the continued berthing of large vessels at Queens Wharf; and

• Removal of proposed jetties from the northern and eastern sides of the wharf.

These matters are fundamental to the enabling the proposal to proceed.

Are there any other issues of concern?

Other adverse effects which have been assessed in the Officer’s report include:

• Public use of the area and amenity values;

• Natural hazards;

• Noise impacts, both produced from the proposed hotel and effects of existing nearby activities on the proposed hotel;

• Impacts on views, sunlight, and shading;

• Impacts on historical heritage of Queens Wharf;

• Ensuring suitable lighting around the proposed hotel; and

• Constructing effects such as noise, dust, vibration and the release of sediment to the marine environment.

What does this mean?

It is important to note that the Officer’s report is not a decision, it is a recommendation to the Hearing Committee.

The Report is one aspect of the information the Hearing Committee will consider in making a decision on the applications. The Hearing Committee will also consider evidence provided at the hearing by the applicant and its experts, and submitters.

What information has GW considered in making its recommendation?

Greater Wellington has considered the following things:

• Information provided in the applications and further information provided later;

• Advice from GW and WCC technical experts covering a range of matters including, natural hazards, noise, traffic, building and urban design, wind and historic heritage;

• Advice from an independent planning consultant (regarding land use planning issues); and

• Issues raised in submissions.

In assessing the proposal GW has also considered the provisions of the Resource Management Act, and GW and WCC planning documents.

Why has Greater Wellington not asked for more details relating to the concerns raised in the Officer’s Report?

Greater Wellington did formally request more information from the applicant on these matters in April. The applicant provided some of this information but not all of it addressed GW’s concerns adequately. Greater Wellington asked for further details, which the applicant has indicated will be provided at the hearing. The missing areas of information cover such things as additional detail and possible options for managing adverse effects.

Have you been able to continue to assess the applications without the additional information you requested?

Yes. We have still been able to complete a reasonable full assessment of the proposed hotel development on the basis of the information provided to us so far.

How often have you dealt with the applicant during this process?

As well as two formal information requests, GW has met at least 6 times with the applicant to discuss the information requirements and other process related matters. There have also been dozens of phone conversation and e-mail exchanges between GW and the applicant on these matters.

When is the hearing?

The hearing commences on 3 July 2006 at GW. It is anticipated the hearing will run for most of July. A public notice of hearing days, times and venues will be published in the Dominion Post on Saturday 24 June 2006.

What will happen at the hearing?

The Hearing Committee will hear from the applicant and its technical experts, GW’s Officer, consultant planner and WCC technical experts, and submitters. Only submitters can speak at the hearing. Any member of the public can attend as it is a public hearing.

The applicant has indicated additional information and details of modifications to the current proposal will be provided at the hearing to address the areas of concern raised in the Officer’s report. Should the applicant provide sufficient detail to address all concerns raised, GW’s reporting officer may be in a position to review the recommendation. With this in mind a number of conditions have been suggested in the Officer’s report with a view to ensuring the adverse effects are appropriately managed. It is important to note that these conditions have been formed on the basis that the concerns raised would be resolved at the hearing. The conditions do not cover all aspects of the proposal as GW does not have sufficient information to form all conditions at this stage.

Who is on the Hearing Committee?

• GW Councillor Chris Turver (Chair)

• GW Councillor Chris Laidlaw

• Stuart Kinnear (Independent Commissioner)

• Dave McMahon (Independent Commissioner)

• Miria Pomare (Iwi appointee)

When will the Hearing Committee make a decision?

The hearing Committee have 15 working days from the close of the hearing to make a decision and notify the applicant and all submitters of its decision.

Where can I find out more? Can I get a copy of the Officer’s report?

From Monday 23 June 2006 a copy of the Officer’s Report will be available at the Environment Helpdesk, Level 3, Greater Wellington, in Wakefield St, Wellington. The Report will also be available electronically on GW’s website at www.gw.govt.nz.

ENDS


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