Support the Guardian

Available for everyone, funded by readers

Expansion a ‘brutal privacy invasion’

Expansion a ‘brutal privacy invasion’
An artist’s impression of the proposed expansion of the Methven Resort, showing two new accommodation wings. IMAGE SUPPLIED

A proposed resort expansion would be a 'brutal privacy intrusion', a Methven resident says.

Mark Brownlie lives near Methven Resort, and is one of several neighbours objecting to a consent application for the hotel's expansion.

And, a hearing has heard, it could hinge on a consent granted four decades ago.

The resort wants to build two new accommodation wings, one on the north boundary and one on the west.

An independent commissioner, Darryl Millar, who is deciding on the consent application, held a public hearing in Methven on Thursday.

During the meeting, Brownlie said the development plans would deny him “privacy, outlook and daylight”, with the effects “much more than minor”.

Brownlie said he didn't oppose the resort owners developing the site, but he was against the positioning and height of the proposed new accommodation wing.

His view of the mountains – one of the main reasons he bought land and built there - would be ruined by the proposed development, he said.

The application was lodged by The Methven Limited, which is controlled by Ultimate Hospitality Limited. The company is a subsidiary of The Ultimate Global Group, which is run by entrepreneur Levin Da Costa.

The commissioner will determine if the plans are as intrusive as the neighbours say, or if the applicant and its panel of experts are correct in their description of the effects as being “less than minor”.

The commissioner is being asked to consider whether an original resource consent granted in 1982 is still applicable.

Legal advice provided to the council in 2007, the last time an expansion of the site was considered, was that the original consent could no longer be implemented without further consent.

The applicant’s solicitor, Gerard Cleary, argued the consent remained valid and that it “does not include a condition requiring development be in accordance with specific plans”.

The 1982 consent granted permission for four three-story wings extending from the central hotel area, but only one wing was originally built to the south.

The commissioner must also weigh up whether the plans are non-compliant with the district plan, as the site is residential zone C.

A series of conditions have been proposed by the applicant to mitigate the effects of the expansion.

There was also discussion of the potential height reduction of the west wing from three storeys (10.4m height) down to two storeys (7.3m).

If the configuration could be changed, Brownlie suggested the entire expansion could be one block along the northern side, which wouldn’t impact any neighbours.

At the conclusion of the hearing the commissioner said he would issue a minute asking the council to seek legal submissions, with the applicant then able to have a right of reply.

By Jonathan Leask