Residents claim victory after MPT turns down rezoning application

The MPT unanimously refused an application brought by the Grey Hotel

De Waterkant residents and ratepayers have claimed victory after the City’s Municipal Planning Tribunal (MPT) refused an application for rezoning in the area.

The MPT unanimously refused the application for rezoning and building work in a Heritage Protection Overlay Zone (HPOZ) last Tuesday, April 6.

The properties in question are on the corner of Napier and Jarvis Streets and are in what residents say is arguably one of the oldest heritage blocks in the city.

The application sought to consolidate three erven and for the properties to be rezoned from General Residential (GR2) to General Business (GB2) to operate a hotel, three restaurants, two bars, shops, and three roof decks.

A previous planning application for consolidation, rezoning, departures and City’s approval to regularise the existing hotel, was submitted to the City in 2017 and 52 objections from residents were received before it was withdrawn in 2019.

The applicant, Group One Investment Proprietary Limited, said De Waterkant is characterised by mixed-use development, which include places of entertainment, residential use, offices, commercial and the proposed residential use and entertainment use will integrate and contribute positively to the area.

They planned to regularise the existing hotel, bar, offices and restaurants and to allow for ground floor shops and additions to the hotel accommodation.

Residents objected to the application stating that the proposed development would be intrusive and incompatible with the character of the area.

Following the decision by the MPT to refuse the application, De Waterkant Civic Association (DWCA) chairman, Spider Clark, stated that DWCA was one of 52 objectors to the rezoning of the properties in the heritage-rich precinct.

“Neighbours and residents also objected as it was universally considered that the rezoning and the intensive uses proposed in the application are incompatible with the residential nature of the area; that they would have a negative impact on heritage resources and on the rights of surrounding property owners; and would adversely impact on the health and well-being of the area.

“This is a victory for the community, and the MPT decision protects against excessive and inappropriate business encroachment in residential areas.”

He said the MPT did, however, recognise the value of land intensification, contribution of socio-economic benefits, and mixed-use development, and therefore supported the business of the boutique hotel, the addition of two new hotel rooms, and the opportunity for specialist retail stores on Jarvis Street.

“But the MPT refused the application for the rezoning and related departures to prevent trafficable publicly accessible rooftops and separate multiple bars from operating. In their view, certain of the proposed uses could more appropriately operate with consent-use approval.”

Mr Clark said De Waterkant is renowned for the mixed-use integration of activities of residential, speciality retailers, coffee shops, restaurants, boutique hotels, art galleries, heritage architecture and streetscapes and has a strong international and local tourism culture. “The MPT recognised this value to the city and its decision protects and enhances this heritage tourism asset for the city.”