The builders of Kitea hotel will not be charged a fee for a yearlong occupation of the footpath on one of Wanaka’s busiest streets.

Queenstown Lakes District Council resource management engineering manager Dave Wallace confirmed if the builders wanted to occupy a council car park during construction at 67 Brownston St, it would generally cost $15 a day.

“It acts as an impetus to get jobs done quickly,” he said of the fee.

Board members and councillors questioned Mr Wallace extensively about the free road reserve licence before unanimously agreeing building company Fortis Holdings could place an open-ended container on the Brownston St footpath to provide a walk-through gantry for pedestrians and workers.

Cr Calum MacLeod asked about road licence occupation fees.

Mr Wallace said it was nothing out of the ordinary for the council to grant licences to occupy footpaths.

Though it was free, developers and builders were not getting a “free for all” and would have to “move it”, he said.

“It would be difficult for them to find another solution than what we have here,” he said.

The hotel’s footprint encompasses the full extent of the property and there is little space within the boundary for scaffolding, site cabins and storage.

The site is also constrained by commercial developments on three sides, and the only access is off Brownston St.

A site office will be set on top of the container on the footpath.

Cr Niamh Shaw said Brownston St was a heavily used, central road and the footpath should be put back to the way it was as soon as construction was completed.

The licence is subject to conditions including creating a traffic management plan and liaising with neighbouring businesses.

After the decision was carried, board member Ed Taylor quipped there should be a caveat that all future hotel guests should buy a ticket to Cr MacLeod’s business, Cinema Paradiso, over the road.

Cr MacLeod responded that once the hotel was finished, he feared people might start illegally using the cinema and supermarket car parks.