by Chris Tobin
Tensions have been running high in Tekapo with an online petition opposing a planned 112-room hotel development but Mackenzie District Mayor Graham Smith is calling for the developer to get on with the job, and with a second hotel as well.
“Tekapo badly needs this accommodation and we’re working hard to get accommodation happening so I’d like them to get going.”
Local resident and businessman Anthony Tosswill has plans to build two large hotels – consent has been given for one and plans were well under way for the second.
“I say he needs to get on and achieve something for the sake of Tekapo,” Mr Smith said.
The online petition, organised by Tekapo resident Dr Natalia Zuleta, has called for the first hotel project to stop, citing safety concerns for nearby Lake Tekapo School.
Anonymous letters opposing the development have also been being placed in letterboxes around the town.
Mr Tosswill has received resource consent for the first hotel to go ahead and work on this project was expected to start in the coming weeks, on the corner of D’Archaic Drive and Aorangi Crescent, near Lake Tekapo School.
He said in a public statement he was disappointed by this last-ditch effort to scupper his plans.
“There has been full knowledge of this hotel project for over four years, with signs that residents drive past every day, so I am bewildered and disappointed in this latest attempt to obstruct the development and intimidate the Mackenzie District Council.”
The land on which the hotel is to be built is designated as a tourist zone and therefore resource consent for accommodation was not required.
Other consents were necessary and these had been approved by the council, the last of them two years ago.
Dr Zuleta’s petition, “Put Child Safety First”, has drawn about 1000 signatures.
“We believe this application should have been publicly notified in the first instance, where submissions could have been heard with consideration given to the risks it poses to the Tekapo community and in particular our children,” the petition said.
In a recent online post she added: “.. I have made it clear I never had an issue with the developer.
“My concern was the lack of public consultation regarding the resource consent issued by Mackenzie District Council.
“This petition was started to gather support to find an alternative location for this development.”
Dr Zuleta’s partner, newly elected Pukaki ward councillor on the Mackenzie District Council, Matt Murphy, said in reply to a request for comment from him and Dr Zuleta that “I am not able to make comment on this issue.
“I’d suggest you contact mayor Graham Smith for an update on the council position.”
In his statement, Mr Tosswill said Dr Zuleta’s concern for school children’s safety was “totally unfounded”.
“Check-outs [from the hotel] are usually 10am with tour buses before 8am and check-in normally typically after 4pm.
“Children are either in school/kindergarten at these times or have left the premises.
“We have carefully designed the site so the buses can access one street and depart on the other.
“They are able to turn on the hotel site itself and no reversing is required.
“Drivers can also be directed to exit D’Archiac Drive and go straight to State Highway 8, not passing the school.”
In a change of consent condition approved in 2017, the council said the site would have vehicle crossings located, designed and constructed to meet the council’s requirements and speed humps/cushions (suitable for buses) and “slow” markings would be installed on-site.
“No entry” signs and white arrow markings would be also installed at the southern access on Aorangi Crescent and the access on D’Archiac Drive, to facilitate outbound traffic and to avoid traffic issues.
Mr Smith said if those opposing the development wished to continue, they could apply to the High Court for a judicial review.
The council’s resource consent decision could not be reversed.
International hotel chain Radisson has partnered with Anthony Tosswill’s company NZ Horizon Hospitality to build the four-star 112-room hotel, which was projected to open in the second quarter of 2021.
Mr Tosswill and Radisson are seeking also to build a second 237-room five-star hotel in Lakeside Dr, near the Four Square supermarket, to open in late 2022. Mr Tosswill has already bought the land for this development.
His company and Radisson have plans for developing two hotels in Queenstown which would be close to the airport and a proposed cable car that would connect to the Remarkables ski fields. One hotel would be a 171-room complex and the other would have 257 rooms. Both were planned to open late in 2022.