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Hotel expansion plans opposed

Hotel expansion plans opposed
The Methven Resort is applying for a resource consent for a proposed expansion which has met opposition from neigbouring property owners.

One of the biggest hotels in the tourist town of Methven wants to expand, but neighbours are opposing the move.

Methven Resort in Canterbury wants to build two new wings on the site, along the west and north boundaries.

However, concerns have been raised the expansion will block sun and impact privacy for neighbouring residents.

The resort, which opened in 1982, currently features 47 guest rooms, a bar, restaurant, swimming pool, hot pools, and function rooms.

Ashburton District Council processed the resource consent for the expansion under limited notification.

Three submissions opposed consent and an independent commissioner will decide on the application. A public hearing to hear submissions would be held at the Mount Hutt Memorial Hall on October 26.

Issues raised include the building's height impacting on the privacy of the neighbours and not meeting zoning rules, according to the executive summary of the planning hearing report.

The hotel sits in the Residential C zone, which is described as medium-to-low density housing with permanent residents.

The two proposed accommodation blocks exceed the 8m height limit for the zone.

It also does not comply to zoning as more than five guests would stay per night and it exceeds operating hours.

The council’s assessment of the application “raised issues of concern regarding the impact of the western accommodation block on the privacy and outlook enjoyed by the submitter's properties”.

“As such the effects are considered to be more than minor on those properties.”

Before granting consent, the council must be satisfied that either the adverse effects of the activity on the environment will be minor, or the proposed activity will not be contrary to the objectives and policies of a proposed plan.

The executive summary outlined that the “district plan makes clear statements that commercial development should be guided to the business zones" and the character of residential areas should be protected.

The summary said if the proposed western accommodation block was reduced to two storeys, then it could be approved.

The resort's owners did not respond to a request for comment.

The resort has been a subsidiary of the Ultimate Global Group since May 2021, which is a New Zealand-based conglomerate that has a hospitality footprint across the country and Asia.

Methven Resort’s long line of owners

The hotel opened as Centrepoint in 1982, with numerous ownership changes over the decades - and even a blaze damaging the hotel’s interior in the 1990s.

Originally a family-owned business, it has since been under hotel chains such as Grand Chancellor, Sovereign, and Dynasty Group.

Under the Dynasty Group, it was sold in a mortgagee sale in 2008 after the company failed to pay a long list of creditors.

The hotel was steered back to stability by former French Farm Winery owners Mark Smith and Ann Tillson, who operated it for five years before being sold again. 

The landmark hotel struggled when Covid-19 shut the borders to international tourists. It was closed down in June 2020 after the lessees, Gretha Group Limited, went into liquidation.

The family of the building owners, Maxim Fashions, reopened the venue in October 2020.

The venue has again changed hands with the Ultimate Global Group running the hotel since May 2021.

By Jonathan Leask