Thursday, 18 January 2007

Dunedin company uses Red Tape to knock down Wall Street

The Dunedin City Council's proposed "Wall Street" retail and office development has been scaled back, after a rival company threatened to drag the development through the Environment Court.

The DCC was hoping to convert the area around the former Deka building in George Street into a three-building retail and office development, featuring a four-storey stone wall and an internal street.

But local company Duv Lin Properties lodged a surprise appeal in the Environment Court, which threatened to derail the Wall Street proposal. The company (which owns the Westpac Bank building opposite the George Street site) claimed the new building would be too high, blocking sunlight to other buildings and footpaths, and objected to the provisions for car parking.

Following mediation, the Council's property company has agreed to drop the plans for an office tower in Filleul Street, and to lose one floor of car parking. One floor of retail space is also gone, with shops now only on the ground floor.

The cost of the Wall Street development has been revised downwards to $26 million, but the council will now have to consider whether the proposal is still feasible.

It is disappointing to see a competing landlord can use New Zealand's lengthy red tape procedures (Environment Court, Resource Management Court) to force a rival development to alter its plans, simply to block any new competition for high-rent central city offices.

Of course, there's still the question of whether Local Government should be in the business of private property development and management in the first place... but that is a debate for another day ;-)

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