Tekapo residents have raised a petition and are threatening high court action over a 112-room hotel being built close to a primary school, kindergarten, playgroup and community hall.
While there are only 300 permanent residents in Tekapo, more than 950 people have signed a change.org petition raised by local mum Natalia Zuleta again construction of a Radisson branded hotel on the corner of Aorangi Crescent and D’Archaic Drive in 2021.
Council approved the plan back in 2014, but Zulata argues the site’s tourism zoning, unchanged for 15 years is “very much out of touch with the land is actually being used today”.
The petition argues check-in and out times coincide with the beginning and end of school and kindergarten.
“At these times traffic will be at its peak and our children will be most vulnerable,” it states.
“We are therefore asking that the hotel development is moved to another location where the risks can be adequately mitigated and this piece of land be set aside for a more suitable community-friendly development.”
Locals claim they were not given the opportunity to voice their concerns prior to the hotel being granted consent in 2014, or the subsequent consents made in 2017, because they were never made public. Many only realised it was on the drawing board when when Radisson issued a statement about the new hotel in September.
Zulata says she wants to work with the council and developer Anthony Tosswill to find an amicable land swap solution, but is willing to seek a High Court judicial review of the original consent if necessary.
“We believe this application should have been publicly notified in the first instance where submissions could have been heard with consideration given to the risks it poses to the Tekapo community and in particular our children,” she said.
Because the Aorangi Crescent site falls within a tourist zone under the Mackenzie Council district plan, it does not require a consent for visitor accommodation, although consents are needed to control many of its design elements.
Council does not have the administrative powers to reverse a resource consent and Mackenzie District mayor Graham Smith has welcomed more hotel accommodation in Tekapo, while acknowledging the need to “manage” its location in a “built-up schooling area”.
He told RNZ: “We do have issues around worker accommodation and staff accommodation. So hotel-type accommodation is probably preferable in Tekapo and we’ve been crying out for some time to get more hotels across the line or accommodation providers across the line.”