The pin has been pulled on a multi-million-dollar Queenstown development aimed at solving some of the resort’s housing woes.
Thirty-two affordable houses, known as Bowen Street Cottages, were to be built just off Gorge Road.
Its sales day made national news – but now the development’s been scrapped in the wake of council requests for further information.
Developer Gerry Oudhoff was reluctant to talk to the Otago Daily Times because of concerns not all buyers were aware of the news.
“We are disappointed – foremost for the buyers that have been let down.”
The bone of contention appears to be an Otago Regional Council (ORC) request for an engineer’s report peer review.
The site was bought for $2.45 million in August last year by Oudhoff, his wife Sharon, and business partner James Hennessy, as Bowen Creek Investments Ltd.
But it is in the middle of a flood hazard zone caused by two nearby creeks.
Oudhoff told Harcourts, the estate agency managing the project, to advise potential homeowners the deal is off and deposits will be refunded with interest.
An email from Harcourts, shared with the Otago Daily Times, said: “Our client [Bowen Creek Investments Ltd] has been unable to obtain a resource consent on terms and conditions entirely satisfactory to the company.”
The email also hints at delays by Queenstown’s council and the regional council.
“Our client has been very concerned about the time taken to have the resource consent dealt with and the potential for further delays to be incurred without any indication of a clear timeframe within which a decision would be available.”
Until the engineer’s peer review is completed, Queenstown’s council, which is responsible for the resource consent, “will not progress the application”.
ORC director of engineering, hazards and science Gavin Palmer says that’s unusual, given the setting and scale of development.
“It would ensure an informed decision was made … we felt it was necessary. We kept an open mind on it.”
The report, looking at natural hazards within the proposed development area, could have been “enabling, he says.
Brewery Creek caused chaos during the 1999 Queenstown floods, when large volumes of debris and sediment inundated the area, cutting off access to Gorge Rd and affecting businesses and residential properties.
Queenstown council’s planning boss Tony Avery says staff were working with the developer to resolve issues.
“My understanding is that we were still waiting on information from the developer about how they proposed to deal with natural hazards associated with the site, before being able to continue with processing the application.
“It is unfortunate that the developer appears to have made arrangements with prospective buyers before obtaining the necessary approvals, as the site was not without its issues and we needed to be certain that the natural hazards were going to be addressed appropriately.”
The Bowen Street Cottages site is next to a council-proposed special housing area that includes the current Wakatipu High School site, excluding the playing fields, and, on the opposite side of the road, all land from the Caltex corner down to and including Gorge Rd Retail Centre, next to Matakauri Park.
It is currently being considered by Housing Minister Nick Smith.
Otago Daily Times