Queenstown retirement village fast-tracked

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A massive retirement village development in Queenstown has fast-tracked consent – which commissioners say will irreversibly change the rural character of the town’s entrance.

The development’s original proposal, for 53 hectares next to Lake Hayes Estate, was for a 332-unit Queenstown Country Club village with a clubhouse, retail units, cafe, medical centre, childcare centre, gym and restaurant.

Tauranga company Sanderson Group has a separate application for 40 relocatable single-bed units for workers.

Commissioners David Mead, Jan Caunter and Scott Stevens say the change to the rural landscapes along State Highway 6 will be “irreversible”, adding that it will “move this part of the district into an urban form”.

“While the applicant has proposed a variety of design controls and planting to mitigate these effects, there is no escaping the hard reality that the rural character will be lost.”

The commissioners’ interim decision, released yesterday, refused consent to Sanderson Group for five units and two lots because they fall inside an area of ‘outstanding natural landscape’.

However, the units may be able to be relocated or redesigned.

The decision says: “If the applicant wishes to pursue the amendments … then it has leave to prepare and present alternative layout plans within two weeks of this decision being issued.”

The commissioners say a planned 10m-high, 70m-long clubhouse, fronting Ladies Mile, was “too dominant”.

But they agreed with a revised design, reducing the footprint by 22 per cent, to 9.3m-high and 60m-long.

“We find that this reduction helps reduce the visual presence of the building somewhat and increases the open space between it and the group of villas either side,” the decision says.

A submission made during a three-day consent hearing in January suggested Sanderson Group make a financial contribution towards the cost of a future roundabout at the intersection of the state highway and Howards Dr.

But the commissioners said there were “no substantive grounds” to impose such a condition.

“We do agree that a roundabout (or some other form of upgrade) will be needed in the future, but ultimately the timing of that is a decision for the road controlling authority to make, not us.

“How those works will be funded is unknown and it would be inappropriate for us to impose a financial contribution without a cost estimate and a robust analysis of the incremental contribution of the development to the need for a roundabout.”

Sanderson Group had proposed some works to improve the intersection and, in their closing, offered a condition which would require the land needed to accommodate a roundabout to be kept free of development and be offered to NZTA if it was requested.

“We see this [as] a helpful suggestion and agree with it,” the decision said.

With regard to a proposed cafe/restaurant, commissioners restricted opening hours to between 8am and 10pm, the latter being “a hard and final closing time”.

Commissioners imposed consent lapse periods of between one and five years.

The interim decision also contained 54 pages of conditions.

Otago Daily Times