King of Ladies Mile unfazed


For Tauranga-based developer Fraser Sanderson, the controversy over developing the northern side of Queenstown’s Ladies Mile echoes his and his wife Donna’s battle to win
public approval for their retirement village on the southern side. He tells PHILIP CHANDLER why he thinks more development will mitigate traffic concerns, and warns what’ll happen if
the masterplan’s rejected

Thos against developing the northern side of Queenstown’s Ladies Mile highway shouldn’t
underestimate the determination of one of its key drivers.

Developer Fraser Sanderson — who’s behind the Queenstown Country Club retirement village and ongoing residential/commercial projects on the southern side of Ladies Miles — is adamant the council should approve the controversial Ladies Mile masterplan next  month, after postponing the decision at its July meeting.

That’s despite concerns more development will just add to the highway’s horrendous traffic

Sanderson argues there are already funded traffic-reducing initiatives in the works, such as
roundabouts and bus lanes, and other ideas he’s got.

And, though it sounds contradictory, he believes the more Ladies Mile is developed — with
schools, playing fields and retail, as well as 2000-plus sections — the less people will need to drive over the Shotover Bridge to Frankton and central Queenstown.

‘‘The traffic will sort itself out, I promise you.’’

Invercargill-raised Sanderson — a local holiday homeowner since 2015 — says this battle
echoes the struggles he and his wife Donna faced five years ago trying to develop Queenstown Country Club to give local elderly the chance to stay in town.

‘‘We sadly faced strong opposition from some of the community, as well as some members
of the local community association, who at times made it very uncomfortable for us by expressing their strong opinion that basically we were ruining Queenstown.

‘‘They recognised we needed the amenities we were wanting to provide, but not in their area and certainly not on Ladies Mile.’’

He says they ‘‘so nearly pulled the pin on our vision’’, but they were buoyed by advocates like ex-mayoress Lorraine Cooper and the late Sir Eion Edgar, and subsequently got ‘special housing area’ (SHA) approval for the village.

Though he wasn’t sure it’d be financially viable, it prospered, and two years ago he sold it to listed village operator Arvida.

Sanderson says he sold the village to free up funds to develop the adjacent Southern Cross
hospital and the rest of the Kawarau Park medical/retail precinct.

‘‘We created an integrated community containing everything a retiree needs, where they don’t have to leave the site.’’

He foresees ‘‘the same bigger picture for development of the northern side of Ladies Mile’’,
with facilities there meaning residents don’t have to venture out, either.

Meantime, since selling the retirement village and developing Kawarau Park, Sanderson’s also developed land south of Jones Avenue he bought at the same time.

Projects there include:

●  Alpine Views subdivision, comprising 23 lots, 13 of which, under SHA obligations, have
gone to the local housing trust;

●  Alpine Views accommodation, comprising 51 executive suites, in 11 buildings, for professionals servicing, for example, the medical facilities;

●  Kawarau Heights, a 100-section subdivision that was originally going to be an extension
of the retirement village, but wasn’t, in Sanderson’s view, needed by the local market.

Meanwhile, Howards Drive Estate, a 13-lot subdivision is on hold.

Last year, Sanderson also bought about seven hectares north of Ladies Mile, opposite the
former Walker property, now owned by the council.

Under the masterplan, his land would house the town centre.

Sanderson believes either his site, or the council’s, would be ideal for new council offices.

Having almost 500 council staff based here, along with those visiting the offices, would also
reduce trips over the Shotover Bridge, and free up Queenstown CBD parking, he says.

He believes the benefit of the masterplan is he and the other landowners north of the highway would all develop their land, in an integrated fashion, at the same time.

If it’s not approved, ‘‘we will end up with ad hoc development’’.

He also argues drastically increasing housing supply will control the resort’s escalating
house prices.

There’s also a chance, if the plan doesn’t proceed, the government’s public housing arm,
Kainga Ora, would buy land here and build far denser housing, he says.