In consideration of the above deliberations and analysis, the Committee concludes that the majority of the public that participated in this consultation were not in favour of the development of part of Shirley Park for a four (4) star hotel. It is also noted that all the submissions were in favour of developments generally in Lautoka City but not in Shirley Park.
It was also evident that the consultation process by the Department of Town and Country Planning was not widely promulgated through announcements, advertisements and notifications in all media outlets.
The Committee was also informed by the developer, P. Meghji & Company that the proposed area is six thousand four hundred and seventy five (6,475) square meters of land which also comprised DP 1805(part of) also known as Lot 2 in the proposed scheme plan of Lot 1 ND 5149 and DP 1905 with an area of one thousand seven hundred and forty three (1,743) square meters.
This portion was not part of the rezoning application submitted to the Director of Town and Country Planning (refer to appendix 3A). There is no evidence as to how the developer had included this portion of land into its proposed development.
My name is Josateki Vuluma. When P. Meghji wanted to develop Shirley Park, he came around to Vitogo and said that he wanted to develop Shirley Park so that there can be jobs in the tikina. All the Chiefs agreed to sign that letter so that the area can be developed. That is all.
MR. CHAIRMAN.- Honourable Members of the Committee, with us is the representative from the P. Meghji Company. Any questions or comments to the presenter, or do you want us to proceed further? Mr. Matanatabu, the Committee agrees for you to proceed with your presentation.
MR. E. MATANATABU.- Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Before I start with the presentation, maybe, I would like to give the Committee a brief background of P. Meghji Trading Limited. P. Meghji started its operations here in Lautoka in its current form some 24 years ago. The primary business is a wholesaler with dried goods and beverages and that the majority of our markets at that state were hotels around the country. Some 10 years ago, the Company started to diversify and invested in putting out I think two of its kind establishments in Lautoka; the Lounge and Bar Restaurant and the Lautoka Spa. This is all in its aim to actually develop Lautoka to become a tourist destination. As part of its future development, it also had its eye in establishing a hotel here in Lautoka. So, we can see that the infrastructure is actually in place that we have put in to actually support this development. I think you will know that the latest acquisition was the Sheraton Tokoriki which has now been in operation for the last seven months, and that is out in Tokoriki Island. In a nut shell, as a background to this hotel development, it has been in our pipeline in our development plans, say for the last five years, and it is something that we have always looked forward to.
PROPOSAL BY P. MEGHJI LTD
At the meeting of Lautoka City Council Management on February 13th, 2013, P. Meghji Ltd presented its development proposal options under Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) arrangement and under Long-Term Lease arrangement. In the meeting, the Council and P. Meghji mutually agreed that development under long-term lease would be a win-win situation for both parties.
Proposed Development Construction of 101 rooms, 4-Star Hotel with conference facility with a sitting capacity of 450. Total project is estimated at $17,000,000
Other Business Proposed If approval is given, P. Meghji Ltd intends to construct a jetty on the foreshore opposite the proposed site which will be the gateway to the Yasawa Islands.
P. Meghji Ltd has offered to construct on the balance land on the Foreshore lease a Children’s Park
"The business hotel is a four-star and will have business hotel facilities such as the Conference Centre which is a major part of this hotel. Apart from the Shirley Park, there is no other location suitable for this site. It is the only location that can basically occupy a hundred (100) room hotel with a four hundred (400) seater Conference facility. The company will lease the land where the City Council will earn almost $500,000 a year. Basically, if one looks at a 20-year plan, the land will [be] worth $20 million. The company is not paying upfront and grabs the land from the Lautoka City Council; it will still remain with them. During the initial EOI that the company expressed during the bidding of the land, the company had stated that it will construct a park for people to utilize in the other half of the land or the remaining area where people could enjoy them. The company will be constructing playing fields for kids, a picnic spot for people to use that will have BBQ stands so that those who go to Shirley Park will still be able to utilize that area."
"Has no objection to any other businessman trying to develop Lautoka provided they develop in a place which is meant to be developed and not to take away the parks and gardens. He would like to put on record that Mr. Praveen Kumar Bala was an Administrator and a former Mayor of Lautoka and he told Mr. Singh that he has been asked by the Attorney General to put a proposal to government.
From his experience with the Town and Country Planning procedures, it is very clear that all the submissions has to be made to the Town and Country Planning by all the authorities before they even issue a provisional approval. In this case, there has been a horse before the cart whereby the provisional approval has been given and Mr. Meghji is going around in Lautoka and the whole of Fiji saying that he has a park to develop. That is very unfair on the part of the citizens and developers of Lautoka.
In the newspaper of Tuesday 3rd March, it is reported that the Committee is usurping the powers of the Town and Country Planning. He wishes to place on record that the Honorable Attorney General has been usurping the powers of the Director of Town and Country Planning by putting a directive well before the submission started. As with the other members they expect and have big faith in the Bainimarama government to be transparent, open and put procedures in place so that every other citizen can follow the law but there has been a shortcut. The development in Lautoka will not stop if Meghji does not get Shirley Park. Their company has plans to put a fifty million dollar ($50m) one hundred (100) room hotel and that is already in the pipeline so there is no real shortage. In his conversation with Mr. Y.P. Reddy, they have got almost one hundred (100) rooms and they will have another one hundred (100) rooms and the occupancy percentage will not be more than sixty (60) per cent. The developing one will be trying to kill another development which is already in the pipeline. Lautoka Hotel is a hotel site next to Shirley Park they can develop there, a hotel on a hotel site so that, that hotel and the Waterfront Hotel can give the visitors and of course the citizens of Lautoka a place to go and relax in the open space.
He handed over the proposal of a fifteen or twenty million dollar ($15m or $20m) development which is going to come up in 2016 and it is a four (4) or five (5) story hotel with one hundred (100) rooms which will be ready in 2018. He will present another set of reports by a company that shows that flooding is already eminent in this area and the city council should address this issue now. The problem is already there when there is a heavy downfall and high tide the whole road is filled with flood water. There is a report and it shows that there is a problem in that area and putting in another hotel will increase the problem. There was no consultation what so ever and everything was done behind closed doors and then when the public found out they were told that there is something happening, but again very limited information was being passed to them.
He has no faith in the Director of Town and Country Planning. He cited an example in Labasa where Jaycees Park was also given for a hotel development and the ratepayers of Labasa went ahead and signed the petitions, saw the Prime Minister and the Attorney General and there was a recommendation by one of the staffs, a high qualified staff that the Jaycees Park should not be touched and should be left for open space. But despite the recommendation within the Ministry, within the Department the Director went ahead and rezoned it. The danger is that the Shirley Park will face the same fate if they are not careful, despite all the objections the Director could do otherwise. The authority is good but they should listen to the views of the public and then make a decision, not to be biased and predetermined the decisions.
By having a hotel next to Waterfront, there will be no big difference to anyone except just losing a very good parcel of land that the public has. If Mr. Meghji wants to develop, the government should allocate something around that area, it is not too far out. They do not fear competition because nowadays in business it is all about service if you give good service the customers are going to come."
HON. J. DULAKIVERATA.- Mr. Chairman, if you had been given the approval last year, why did you not start?
MR. R. MEGHJI.- The reason we did not start, we were doing Sheraton Tokoriki. It is a $50million Project we did there, and we had started that. So, initially one cannot run two projects at the same time. We finished in July, and then we were supposed to start this.
Fijileaks: We invite all and sundry to compare Shirley Park leasing with the Old Nausori market leasing to Food For Less supermarket chain!
Nausori Town Council is a winner with lease rental double and 10 year lease paid upfront; Meghjis are not paying lease UPFRONT!