Plans to turn an old Mowbray hotel with heritage protection into a college with student accommodation are open for public comment.
The development of the Royal Standard Hotel in Victoria Road would include accommodation for about 80 students, ancillary offices, 11 classrooms and a canteen. Public participation ends on January 30 next year.
The hotel lies within the Mowbray-Rosebank heritage overlay zone.
Johan van der Merwe, mayoral committee member for energy, environmental and spatial planning said the proposed development would be subject to heritage laws, and it complied with the current general business zoning for the area.
However, the developer would need City permission to: extend and convert the existing buildings for education and student accommodation; work in an area with heritage protection; and encroach on some street boundary lines.
The existing building structures, are believed to date back to the mid-to-late 1800s. The consolidation of these erven was approved in mid-October.
“The owners want to consolidate and link the three buildings structures internally and add a new main entrance,” Mr Van der Merwe said.
“A roof extension is proposed over one of the three buildings. Some internal demolitions, partial demolition of rear façades and demolitions of out-buildings are proposed to enable them to connect and add to the existing structures to accommodate their current use requirements. The existing carriageway crossings and parking area are to be retained.”
The number of student accommodation developments being proposed for Mowbray has frustrated some residents like Leticia Moolman.
“We have already so much in this area, why add more?” she said.
“Yes, of course the students will benefit, as they are now located closer to their universities and places of learning, but what these developers don’t understand is that we, as residents, are impacted by this, and we end up living with the problems.
“Not all students are responsible… they become rowdy at times and cause all sorts of problems.”
However, Jonathan Hobday, the chairman of the Rosebank and Mowbray Civic Association, felt this latest proposal could be a good thing for the area.
“The association applauds the restoration and re-purposing of the old Royal Standard Hotel building. This sensitive approach to urban renewal is exactly what is needed if the association’s vision of creating a ‘Magic Mowbray’ is to be realised. It sets, so to speak, an important standard,” Mr Hobday said.
Many parts of the Mowbray CBD were rundown and ripe for development, he said.
“The association also understands that the area falls within the ambit of several major tertiary education establishments and this is creating special pressures and means that the area has an exciting future as a learning hub.”
However, it was vital that development was not done “willy-nilly” and did not compromise the area’s historic ethos.
“It is also important that re-development takes account of practical issues like traffic, noise and aesthetics and that pride of place be given to the preservation of the iconic and historic Town Hall,” he said.
“Sadly, at the moment, there seem to be no clear planning guidelines or overall vision for the street – which is a matter of deep concern to the association. We note that several major buildings in Main Road and elsewhere in the CBD have recently been sold – apparently to developers – and we earnestly hope that future changes will lead to attractive revitalisation as a mixed-use node.”
“Unless there is sensible planning and development, we fear we will end up with ‘Tragic Mowbray’!’”
The Tatler could not confirm who the applicant behind the proposal is by the time this edition went to print. The City said it could not share the applicant’s details without permission to do so.