Analysis: Fast-tracked housing, coming to a pasture near you


Do you covet rural views over your fence?

Then the commissioners’ decision giving a cautious tick to the intensive Bridesdale Farm development near Lake Hayes should be required reading.

Housing Minister Nick Smith set the tone last June when he announced Bridesdale would be Queenstown’s first fast-tracked housing subdivision.

He said: “I view the rights of landowners to do as they wish with their land and the rights of young families to an affordable roof over their head as more important than the right of neighbours wanting to maintain the outlook of a paddock.”

The commissioners appointed by Queenstown’s council to hear Bridesdale’s application got the message.

They say changing farmland - albeit adjoining a built-up area - into an intense residential subdivision “is reasonable” under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act.

The 60-page decision says: “In our view, given the gentle topography of the Bridesdale land in the area of this site, its location … and the pattern of the development that has already occurred in the immediate area, which has not always kept to zoning boundaries, a long-term expectation that the Bridesdale land would remain rural must be open to question.”

All the while, house prices continue to skyrocket.

Last month the average house sale price in the Queenstown-Lakes was $776,671, according to property information company QV.

That’s more than 7 per cent higher than when Smith made his announcement in June.

In January 2011, just months after Vanessa van Uden was first elected mayor, the average price was $584,907.

Prices have jumped by about a third in five years.

Affordability is the issue, yet the Bridesdale “interim” decision says this: “We do not understand the purpose of the act requires us to ensure that affordable housing is provided.”

The supply of land and homes is king and prices are down to the market. And the market is downright out of control.

Estate agents have been throwing silly money at section owners on behalf of desperate clients.

We’re aware of a Sunshine Bay home owner who sold for almost $200,000 more than the purchase price 18 months ago.

Disillusioned buyers are losing faith after losing again and again at auction.

What’s to be done? Carve up more farms?

At least the brings potential development closer to the CBD.

It seems a good start.