A revised design for Dunedin's latest five-star hotel bid would result in a building that "stepped" down the hill, the lawyer acting for the project says.

Hotel developer Anthony Tosswill's team has filed a revised design to be considered when the resource consent hearing for the contentious Moray Pl project resumes this week.

Since Tosswill initially insisted the hotel's height was non-negotiable, changes have been made to try to allay concerns about the building's impact on surroundings.

They included reducing the height of two of the three towers that made up the building, resulting in an uneven, or "stepped", finish at rooftop height, Phil Page, the lawyer acting for Tosswill, confirmed.


The 17-storey tower facing St Paul's Cathedral would be lowered by one floor, while the tower facing Filleul St would drop by two floors, he said.

The tower at the back of the site, facing Smith St, would remain the same height, at 17 storeys, he said.

To compensate, and retain the same number of apartments and hotel rooms, the two-level podium in the building's original plan would drop by one level, bringing it closer to the street, he said.

That change would be accommodated by extra excavations on site, allowing the same two-level car park to be included, he said.

The changes, which also included a new pedestrian staircase facing Harrop St, were not intended - or expected - to alleviate concerns about the hotel's height, he said.

Rather, they were about improving the building's relationship with surrounding streets, Page said.

"Those who have a real problem with the height of the building as it was proposed at the start of the hearing will still have a problem with it.

"We're not expecting there will be sudden 'Road to Damascus' conversions on that front by people who are wedded to a particular point of view.

"What we are hoping is those who are concerned about the streetscape, and how the building presents itself to the public on Moray Pl ... might be pleased with the change," Page said.

The changes were expected to "very slightly" reduce the shading concerns raised by submitters, but not visual dominance concerns, he said.

The building's central service core would also remain at its original height, to connect to the highest of the three towers, he said.

The idea of stepping the towers had already been explored by the building's architect, Thom Craig, but abandoned because, with the podium at its original elevation, it would have required the towers to be higher.

"We walked away from that because we didn't think we could pull that off.

"Now that the podium has come down, it gives us a better envelope to work with."

Other information released before the hearing resumes on Thursday included new images of the hotel and a response to concerns about traffic movements on the site.

Transport engineer Andy Carr, appearing for Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, had argued the gradients of an internal road and ramps were too steep for large vehicles to navigate, and amounted to "fatal flaws".

A response by traffic consultant Antoni Facey, for Tosswill, detailed a series of design changes to accommodate vehicles on site.

Heavy vehicles approaching the hotel from the uphill section of Moray Pl would be "more problematic", but could be prevented from doing so if a design solution was not found, he said.

The new information would be considered when the hearing resumes.