A $60 million project to demolish the Bureta Park Motor Inn and replace it with a huge housing and retail development has been given the go-ahead.
The Tauranga City Council hearings panel chaired by Cr Greg Brownless ruled in favour of allowing Perry Developments to transform the site, which included swallowing a big chunk of the parkland on the eastern side of the motor inn.
Barring an appeal, the Hamilton-based company has five years to  begin the staged development which will transform the site into 86 residential units, nine shops and an 1100sq m restaurant/bar and gaming complex.
The application was lodged in the name of Perry Property, described as the trading name of Perry Developments.  However a submission to last month's hearing from Mount Maunganui lawyer Rob Paterson resulted in the panel deciding to give their decision "greater certainty" by issuing it in the name of Perry Developments. 
Mr Paterson was also concerned with a potential conflict of interest from councillor commissioners hearing the application because Perry Foundation, part of the Perry Group, was a council city partner.
The project failed to meet a number of council planning rules and site-specific landscaping and development limitation rules. A further non-compliance was discovered during the course of the hearing when lift towers on top of the semi-circular residential apartment building were found to be oversize.
Easily the biggest concern of neighbours was the 11m height of the three-storey 68-unit apartment building, prompting criticisms that it would block views of some hillside residents and that the scale and intensity was out of character with the area.
The underlying zone of the motor inn property was Residential A, which normally restricted heights to 9m, but the extra 2m was justified by a special site-specific limit of 11m.
Neighbours submitted that the 11m height limit was meant to apply to commercial developments on the site, and not a residential development.
But the hearing panel ruled in favour of legal advice obtained from Cooney Lees and Morgan which said the site's special height conditions took precedent over the residential zone's 9m limit.
The decision said the special conditions applied to "development" on the site - implying that it covered  commercial and residential developments.
Commissioners were satisfied that the applicant had shown that the intensity of the development could be adequately accommodated on the site.
The panel was also satisfied with assessments from the applicant and council experts that the effects arising from the loss of 18 protected landscape trees would be no more than minor. It noted that the redevelopment called for comprehensive site landscaping, including new specimen trees. The other commissioners were Crs Wayne Moultrie and David Stewart.