Court challenge over zone


The owners of Queenstown Park Station are taking the Queenstown Lakes District Council to court over a failed rezoning bid.

Queenstown Park Ltd is calling for a special zone to allow for future development on the site, including a gondala link to the Remarkables Ski Area.

The company is appealing decisions on stage one of the council’s proposed district plan (PDP) in the Environment Court.

It says the PDP should focus less on farming, and allow for a broader range of activities in rural-zoned areas.

The company was notified of the council’s decision on recommendations from the hearing panel on May 7.

Queenstown Park Station, formerly known as Kawarau River Station, covers 1826ha and was bought by the Porter family in 2014.

Under the PDP, the station would be rezoned rural with some outstanding natural landscapes (ONL), from its current zone of rural general.

In its submissions to the PDP, the company asks for that to be forfeited in favour of a special zone providing specifically for the park.

The station is currently mainly used for farming, which, in its submission, the company says is “not economically viable and the land needs to be appropriately managed in order to halt the decline in ecological values”.

In its appeal, the company argues the PDP’s focus on farming is “misplaced”.

“Traditional farming activities have the potential to degrade land and water resources.”

Its submission proposed the zone change to “enable a diversification of land use activities (including recreation, residential, conservation, commercial and visitor accommodation) to achieve better environmental outcomes than under the rural zone”.

The appeal states a special zone would promote sustainable management, enable social, economic and cultural wellbeing, and meets obligations under the Resource Management Act.

One of the possible alternative activities at the park was a gondala link between Remarkables Park, the station, and the Remarkables Ski Area.

“Given the significant benefits (economic, tourism, transport) from providing a gondola, QPL considers that the PDP ought to recognise and appropriately provide for this activity,” the submission states.

In late 2015, Porter Group chairman Alastair Porter announced plans for a $50 million gondola.

The gondola would operate from a Gondola Events Plaza, adjacent to the centre in Frankton, and link to NZSki’s base building at the ski field. The ride would take about 27 minutes.

Mr Porter said the project, which would be the longest gondola in Australasia, would be a significant investment in regional and national tourism infrastructure.

Another gondola, this time connecting the CBD with the airport, was suggested as part of a “spatial framework” for the resort’s $385 million town masterplan.

It would likely start at the intersection of Stanley and Shotover streets, and end at Queenstown Airport about 8 kilometres away.

In its submission, Queenstown Park Ltd also opposed the Kawarau River being classified as an ONL.

“The stretch of the river from the control gates bridge to Chard Farm is highly modified and has changed significantly over the years. It is not an ONL.”