Battle begins for Ladies Mile

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Under pressure: Ladies Mile, with Shotover Country in the foreground

More than 2800 residential units could be built along Ladies Mile, near Queenstown, an indicative master plan for the area shows.

The council’s plan – revealed to media yesterday but initially revealed secretly to landowners – covers an area of 136ha on either side of State Highway 6 and includes the under-construction Queenstown Country Club (QCC) – the only special housing area (SHA) approved on the Ladies Mile to date.

It will be considered by the council at its meeting this Friday.

Queenstown council’s planning and practice boss Blair Devlin says it’s “highly unlikely” the maximum yield would be achieved, given not all landowners would want or be able to develop.

Further, the Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas Act (Hashaa) under which development would be contemplated expires in less than three years.

Releasing the indicative plan yesterday, council boss Mike Theelen says it is not a rezoning of the land.

“When Hashaa expires, the zoning of the operative and/or proposed district plan, depending on appeals … will continue to apply.”

There are several “drivers” from central government to encourage councils to ensure they have enough land zoned and serviced for residential development, he says.

While there appears to be enough residentially zoned land in the Wakatipu, little of it has been developed in the past decade and the council can not force landowners to develop it.

“So this is another way we can encourage suitable land to be developed as required by government.”

On Friday, the council will consider amending its SHA policy to include Ladies Mile as “category 2” land, which means the council may consider development there.

An application for a 207-lot SHA on the northern side of Ladies Mile was rejected in July.

If agreed, the proposal will go out for public feedback before the council makes a final decision at its August meeting.

In his report to councillors, Devlin says opportunities for urban growth in Queenstown are limited and largely contained in four areas.

The intensification of existing urban areas is being addressed through the proposed district plan, but that is likely to result in a “limited” number of units, while land along Malaghans Rd from Arthurs Point still had “strong rural character” and little capacity to absorb development.

Land between the Kawarau River and Jacks Point/Hanley Downs is being considered, but it is less readily serviced and will take longer to be enabled.

“Officers consider the Ladies Mile is best placed to accommodate urban development, given it is directly adjacent to existing urban development in the form of Lake Hayes, Shotover Country and the QCC.”

In coming to the recommendation, council staff has looked at numerous documents, models and issues. These include the dwelling capacity model, the Housing Accord and its targets, and issues around housing affordability in the district.

Population projections showed more than double the number of houses would be needed in Queenstown by 2048.

That equated to about seven dwellings being built a week.

Queenstown has an “extremely low uptake of the land that is zoned” being residentially developed, the report says.

That is because 56 per cent of that is held in three ownerships in the Wakatipu, described as “problematic” for the council.

That capacity is on land at Kelvin Peninsula, owned by Frank Mee, the Remarkables Park zone and the Jacks Point/Hanley Downs subdivision.

The last-named faces delays due to appeals lodged in the Environment Court and there has been little residential development on the Kelvin Peninsula or at Remarkables Park in the past 10 years.

The Hashaa was designed to fast-track development, thereby increasing the housing stock.

By increasing supply, it should also improve affordability.

Average house prices in the district had increased by 29.5 per cent over the past year – from
$802,634 in February 2016 to $1,039,434 in February this year – while the average weekly rent in Queenstown in January this year was the highest in New Zealand at $550, a 22.8 per cent increase on January 2016 ($448).

Ultimately, the Queenstown council report says while increasing land supply for residential development is only one element in addressing affordability issues, “it is an element within the control of council, unlike, say, the tax treatment of property”.

Otago Daily Times