Resource consent for CBD granted

By Logan Savory

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Invercargill's proposed CBD development has taken a leap towards reality with the resource consent being approved.

HWCP Management Ltd, a joint venture between the Richardson Group and Invercargill City Council, bought the majority of the buildings and land in the block between Esk and Tay streets, which is bordered by Kelvin and Dee streets.

The plan is to clear the majority of the block and build a new undercover precinct which will include retail, food, and office spaces.

The resource consent hearing process was chaired by lawyer John Maassen and also included Jane Black, who has an urban design background, and planner Gina Sweetman.

"The Panel reaches the unanimous view that the consent should be granted," the decision document says.

"For the reasons we have given, we consider that the applicant has demonstrated that this... proposal will make a significant contribution to the advancement of the sustainable management of natural and physical resources in the business one zone of Invercargill city." 

Geoff Thomson, an HWCP Management Ltd director and likely investor in the project, was delighted with the decision.

The successful hotelier was not only pleased for the people who had worked hard to get the resource consent, but he was thrilled for Invercargill in general.

"It's a really nice feeling," he said.

"You never really know how it might go, there were a lot of moving parts."

"We couldn't keep what we have been doing [with the Invercargill CBD]. 

"It's really sad, but we have a solution now and a way forward."

Fellow HWCP director, and Invercargill City councillor, Lindsay Thomas, said the decision was a testament to the level of work and detail put in in the lead up to the resource consent hearing.

"If it was an exam it would be a 90 percent pass mark," Thomas said.

It was a complex resource consent application and probably the biggest ever carried out in Invercargill, Thomas said.

The consent came with a series of conditions, most are standard conditions for the type of project.

While the applicants were still working through the decision document on Tuesday, Thomas had not spotted any conditions of concern.

One notable condition was that the brickwork on the facade of old The Southland Times building on Esk St could not be painted.

The plan was to paint the facade, given the developers felt it would look better than the exposed brick.

"The consent holder must maintain the unpainted brickwork [of The Southland Times facade] and at all times keep it in an unpainted state," the resource consent decision says.

There is now a 15 working day period for submitters, or the applicant, to appeal the decision if they wish.

Thomas felt the commissioners had been thorough in the decision explanation and hoped that would put to bed any possible appeal.

The resource consent decision will also help advance discussions with potential investors and tenants. 

The Invercargill City Council is currently consulting with the public as to if it should invest up to $30m. 

An additional $20m of work will be needed if the development goes ahead, regardless of whether the council invests.

The money would be spent on the "cityscape", including street furniture and roading.

Community Trust South, representatives of the Government's Provincial Growth Fund, and Ngāi Tahu Property have confirmed they also have had discussions around the prospect of investing.

Those behind the project will now work through getting sign off for demolition and traffic management plans.

Thomson did not want to try put an exact time frame on when demolition would start but said if funding was in place it would most likely be a matter of months and not a year.

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