Hearing panel chairman Leigh McGregor signed the consent 11 days ago, but release of the document was delayed until today.
The building will take 4 years to erect on the long-vacant site beside the Rifleman Building on Albert St & Atrium on Elliott. The site was previously home to the Royal International Hotel, which faced Victoria St West. (The model by architects Moller & Moller, at right, shows the perspective from the Victoria-Albert St intersection).
After 19 months of planning, designing and negotiating through council processes, Dae Ju has produced a complying building. Its biggest obstacle came at the hearing in September, when SkyCity Entertainment Group Ltd witnesses tried to prevent consent, or at least have the top of the tower reduced, because of perceived effects on views from the Sky Tower a block away, on telecommunications services from Sky Tower and possible radio-wave effects on upper Elliott Tower apartments.
The commissioners found the impacts on the Sky Tower could be overcome, while the radio-wave effects from the Sky Tower were SkyCity’s responsibility.
The tower will contain 259 apartments, all designed to comply with the council’s plan change 2, which stipulates minimum unit sizes & various environmental factors such as outlook & privacy.
The commissioners accepted Dae Ju’s proposal for solar panels – large fins at the top of the tower – which will heat water for the whole building for at least 8 months/year.
The podium design (seen in photo at left from the Elliot St perspective) includes pedestrian links through from Elliot St to Albert St and across to Victoria St West, plus enclosed escalator access down the southern side. On Albert St, the public access will open out to a plaza linking with the existing plaza outside the Rifleman Building. These public areas will be closed at 10pm and the residential tower won’t have any public viewing areas.
The commissioners accepted Dae Ju’s right-angled option for a porte cochère on lower Albert St – against council staff opposition to any porte cochère – but said pedestrians should have right of way. They also agreed with suggestions of changing the pedestrian flow at the intersection from with-traffic to Barnes dance.
The consent will cost Dae Ju $100,000 for starters, just to pay for “the development of appropriate traffic management options to address any adverse traffic implications on the intersection of Albert St (including the lower part of Albert St) & Victoria St West and arising from the development”.
The council will also hold a $100,000 bond for landscaping on the tower’s 2 sky gardens, half it for at least 2 years and the other half for 5 years after completion of planting.
There won’t be any public parking – all parking spaces will be ancillary to onsite uses. And despite the upmarket nature of the project, Elliott Tower will have bike storage on 2 basement levels.
The council requires a financial contribution of 1% of the assessed value of works (as determined by the council). The consent is for 7 years.
In the advice note accompanying the consent, the commissioners have gone so far as to suggest Dae Ju consider using names from the past, such as Royal Hotel & Royal International Hotel, for its retail area, for example.
Dae Ju building within its rights
The hearing panel spelt out Dae Ju’s rights in the 39 pages of decision, conditions & advice notes, and also dealt forthrightly with SkyCity’s opposition.
The commissioners were blunt about Dae Ju’s right to build what it proposes, a reflection on SkyCity’s opposition on various grounds: “Under the district plan, an applicant is entitled to build to the height & size that this applicant proposes. In fact, this will be a less bulky building than might otherwise be built, though somewhat higher, given the tower only covers around 20% of the site….
“The site is located within the core strategic management area, where building height is unlimited other than by special height controls that ensure sunlight access is maintained to Albert Park & to Aotea Square. There is no infringement of these controls, nor of the sightlines to the museum & to Mt Eden, which are included in the district plan provisions.
“The district plan does not direct that central area development take a particular form or skyline outline. The current dominance of the city’s skyline by the Sky Tower, as well as the views to be obtained from that structure, is not protected by the district plan nor by any other method.”
SkyCity was concerned about the development for 3 reasons:
the effect on the Sky Tower’s “iconic” statusblocking of telecommunications & broadcast signals from the transmission facilities in the upper parts of the Sky Tower, andthe impact of radiofrequency emissions from those facilities on the apartments in the upper storeys of the Elliott Tower.
The commissioners said significant development could be expected in the cbd, and it would be ongoing. “The proposed tower reinforces the primacy of the cbd, while the tower’s setback from Elliot St acknowledges the important pedestrian environment envisaged for that area…..
“The Sky Tower itself does not enjoy a protected status so far as its height or appearance is concerned. The height limits presently included in the district plan for areas to its west do mean, however, that the Sky Tower will continue to be the tallest building to the west of the central area and will continue to serve as the demarcation point when the central city skyline is observed from the north & north-western harbour areas and the North Shore areas…..
“The addition of a lower building to one side of it could mean that the Sky Tower would serve as a more accurate compass than it does at present.”
On transmission facilities, the commissioners said none of their paths, nor the facilities themselves, were designated. “There would be some obstruction of signals by the broad face of the Elliott Tower, in whole or in part, in the lee of the tower and diagrams were presented to demonstrate the effect of this on the services that area received in areas to the east & north-east. This impact was estimated at 21% of the 360-degree coverage for those who presently receive the services in those affected areas.
“In summary, the argument presented at the hearing was that the obstructions would result in inconvenience in that some repeaters would be required to be installed, &/or that some existing antennas would require to be relocated. While this would result in some cost to those operators, it was not suggested that these technical adjustments would be impossible to achieve.”
On radiofrequency emissions, SkyCity produced a copy of its own 1993 consent at the hearing, showing it was its responsibility “to ensure that radiofrequency emissions from the site do not cause interference to other services, equipment & facilities.”
The commissioners said: “Having had that condition drawn to their attention, the commissioners’ view is that SkyCity’s point is actually addressed by the requirements of its own consent and that any obligation in respect of interference to any equipment in the upper floors of the Elliott Tower belongs to it.”
That point is inarguable, but SkyCity might find some appeal grounds in the other elements of its opposition.
Earlier stories:28 September 2007: Elliott Tower decision reserved after spotlight turned on opponent’s faults28 September 2007: SkyCity offers corporate arrogance & lousy submissions in opposing Elliott Tower 25 September 2007: Dae Ju tower consent narrows to 2 issues
Attribution: Consent decision, story written & photos of model taken by Bob Dey for this website. Previous stories on this subject have been copied without attribution; please note my requirement for attribution.