Bypass funding blow

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A whopping $33 million price tag has been placed on Queenstown’s town centre bypass.

Details of the ‘inner links’ road – on the cards since 2005 – are revealed in Queenstown’s council bid for government funding.

It wanted a $9.5m loan from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) towards the project.

But the argument it will encourage developers to build more than 1000 homes on brownfield downtown sites didn’t convince an independent panel.

It recommended ministers reject the bid and they have.

Queenstown’s mayor Jim Boult says he’ll continue pushing for government funding, though.

“It’s something we will be discussing with government.

“Put it this way, just because we’ve missed out on the [HIF] money for it certainly doesn’t mean it’s off the table.”

The road is a key part of the town centre masterplan, released on Monday for consultation.

The preferred route takes in Henry Street, Gorge Road and Man St – and could see Queenstown Memorial Centre bowled.

The aim is to take traffic off Stanley St and Shotover St, allowing for more public transport links and pedestrianisation.

But the HIF bid argues it will also encourage development – some 1144 homes on Gorge Rd, Lakeview and along the route.

Yet more houses could be built on the old Wakatipu High School site on Fryer St.

Three other Queenstown council HIF bids – Kingston, Ladies Mile and Quail Rise – were approved on Tuesday.

Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith says the bypass bid wasn’t as strong as the others.

“That particular bid was not as strong in terms of the number of homes being delivered to capital contribution.

“But the government is still leaving the door open to providing other mechanisms by which we might be able to fund that infrastructure.

“We expect to make an announcement in the next few months.”

Queenstown’s council can now apply for up to $50 million in interest-free loans to build infrastructure at the other three sites, although various consent processes still apply.

A potential 3200 homes could be built on the greenfield sites as a result, helping to tackle the resort’s housing crisis.

Quail Rise resident and ex-council candidate Terri Anderson says downtown development makes more sense.

“We don’t want to set up more satellite commuting communities.”

Boult partially agrees.

“We’re very pleased of course that the government has approved three projects, but personally I’m very much in favour of brownfield sites, more intensification in central parts of town.”

He says there are lots of opportunities to develop existing downtown sites.

“So it would’ve been good if we’d got that across the line, but three out of four ain’t bad.”

The project was deferred in 2014 in favour of chasing a 20 per cent reduction in car trips through the use of public transport, walking and cycling.

HIF funding could have brought the completion date forward 21 years to 2019 but the project’s likely to be accelerated anyway through the masterplan process.

Boult says the town centre masterplan and HIF bid announcements show wheels are now in motion towards tackling Queenstown’s growing pains.

The long-awaited $21.8m eastern access road in Frankton, named Hawthorne Drive, also opened three weeks ago.

“I wasn’t elected to sit round talking and I think we’re demonstrating we are a can-do council.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz