Arrowtown fast-track review rejected


Queenstown’s council has won a High Court endorsement for knocking back a planned fast-tracked subdivision.

A 150-section development was planned on 45.7ha Ayrburn Farm, adjoining Millbrook Resort. But the council rejected the special housing area application last year, choosing not to recommend it to Housing Minister Nick Smith.

A 201-unit retirement village was subsequently proposed on the site, also as a special housing area, and has also been knocked back.

Last September, Ayrburn Farm Developments Ltd applied for a judicial review of the council’s decision not to endorse the proposed residential development, near Arrowtown. 

The company, associated with developers Chris and Michaela Meehan, claimed, among other things, the council prioritised protection of Arrowtown’s urban growth boundary over creating affordable housing, disregarding its responsibilities under the special housing laws.

However, Justice David Gendall found Arrowtown’s urban growth boundary wasn’t given “disproportionate weight or focus” and the council hadn’t made an error of law.

He was satisfied the council (QLDC) had proper regard for the purpose of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act.

“As such … I conclude that the decision under review not to recommend Ayrburn’s proposal was a lawfully available exercise of the discretion by the QLDC and this court should not interfere with it.”

Gendall says while the purpose of the act was to enhance housing affordability by increasing land supply, it did not simply “roll out a blank canvas for development”.

Not every piece of land meeting the criteria had to be recommended to the minister, the decision said.

The council was entitled to seek costs.

Otago Daily Times