Stephanie is a senior reporter for the Rotorua Daily Post.

Update: Koutu residents vow to keep fighting hotel (+ videos)

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Determined Koutu residents have vowed to keep fighting if the resource consent is granted for a 100-room, four-star hotel on Bennetts Rd.

The proposed multimillion-dollar hotel sparked outrage in the community when plans were unveiled a year ago.

A resource consent hearing, originally set down for two days, was completed at the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre today.

There were more than 120 submissions opposing the development and 13 of those submitters spoke at the hearing. The crowd of about 40 also heard from a number of experts involved in the application.

Resource management planner Eldad Collins said he held the view there would be no adverse effects on the community should the project go ahead.

"In my opinion there will be positive visual effects on the community.

"For example, not having a weed-infested site used for illegal dumping and instead having a site with extensive landscaping."

Mr Collins also touched on a number of issues raised by the public including increased traffic, perceived lack of consultation and impact on the character of the residential area.

Landscape architect Richard Hart was another of the applicants to address the hearing. He said there was a "perception this is going to be a dominant building but we are trying to set it back so it will fit in".

"To the people scoffing at the suggestion the landscaping would be attractive, it is a very real possibility that it could be with fencing and the significant planting, quite dense, around the boundaries."

Eldad Collins speaking at day one of the Koutu Hotel hearing. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER
Eldad Collins speaking at day one of the Koutu Hotel hearing. PHOTO/STEPHEN PARKER

The applicants' summaries were punctured by remarks from the crowd which, for the most part, disagreed with what was said.

Koutu resident Natalie Richards, who has voiced her opposition to the project since it was revealed, was one of the first submitters to air her concerns.

She said, in her view, the hotel would neither enhance nor maintain the community and the lack of consultation, particularly with iwi, was alarming.

"Te Koutu is a suburb that came from the spread of Ohinemutu families. We have a deep connection with this land and can't move or sell. A hotel can go anywhere else, we can't. We are bound to the land.

"This area should have the same protection as Ohinemutu as it is an extension of Ohinemutu. We are all one - all under the banner of Ngati Whakaue."

Other submitters argued those staying at the hotel would make no contribution to the local community and having offshore investors would see the majority of the shares and benefits going to people overseas.

Traffic disruptions, noise and the spread of commercial ventures into residential areas were other concerns expressed.

Outside the hearing, Ms Richards told the Rotorua Daily Post she was pleased the commissioners were open to their concerns and she left with a "positive feeling".

But Ms Richards said Koutu residents would not stop fighting should the resource consent be granted.

"We have talked about our next steps and if we have to we will take it to the Environment Court."

A decision is expected in the coming weeks.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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