Skyline’s chopper bid

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A controversial new helipad is in the wind for Queenstown as Skyline Enterprises looks at options.

The tourism giant wants the proposed ‘Ben Lomond sub-zone’ extended to allow for a possible helipad.

The sub-zone is mooted as part of the council’s proposed district plan (PDP), but it doesn’t cover Department of Conservation land where the helipad would likely be located.

Skyline proposes DOC land to the north east of the existing Skyline lease boundary is best suited for an informal airport.

The company faced costly legal battles over its current pad, next to its main building.

The Environment Court in 2015 slashed the number of landings there from 15 to just four. And that consent runs out in 2020.

Skyline chairman Mark Quickfall tells Mountain SceneĀ the helipad is only in the pipeline and “you obviously need consent for these things”.

Planning Group boss Sean Dent, representing Skyline to a PDP hearing panel recently, said it’s “highly unlikely” another location in the Bob’s Peak area of the proposed sub-zone can accommodate one.

He told the panel there’s no formal proposal to build the helipad and the Civil Aviation Authority and local parapenters haven’t been consulted about the idea yet either.

Commissioner Sarah Dawson asked: “Shouldn’t we have some assurance that it’s an appropriate proposal?”

She warns of a precedent being set if Skyline’s rezoning request is approved without commissioners knowing exactly what works are proposed for the area.

Skyline’s also calling for land to the immediate west of its lease boundary to be “appropriately zoned” to absorb future development.

Dent suggests a recreational facility is in the pipeline for the area, giving another luge track as an example.

He says more details can’t be released yet due to corporate confidentiality.

Skyline’s currently facing two Environment Court hearings over its resource consent applications for a major upgrade and expansion of the gondola and restaurant, as well as a 448-space car park building.

joshua.walton@scene.co.nz