Bigshot developer alleges commercial sabotage

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‘Hendo’s Hole’ developer Tony Gapes is accusing a rival Frankton Flats developer of trying to sabotage his Queenstown plans. 

Auckland developer Gapes last week won council planning approval for his $120 million Five Mile shopping complex at the entrance to Queenstown. 

Two days later, Shotover Park developer Alastair Porter – who also developed nearby Remarkables Park Shopping Centre – said he’d seek a High Court judicial review. 

A furious Gapes, in his first public reaction, says: “We see this as nothing more than a desperate attempt to delay our development for commercial gain. 

“We are creating both short-term construction and long-term retail employment, all of which Queenstown needs.”
Threats to judicially review Five Mile consents during the past year “appear intended to confuse the market for retail and commercial tenants against our proposed shopping centre development”. 

Porter Group hadn’t carried through with any of those threats, Gapes claims. 

Gapes is calling on his rival to proceed with a judicial review challenge “rather than making hollow threats”. 

Porter calls Gapes’ comments “extremely hypocritical” because Gapes’ Queenstown Central Ltd recently appealed against the Pak ‘N’ Save supermarket on Shotover Park land and opposed a planned Mega Mitre 10 hardware store. 

“Why is Queenstown Central appealing the supermarket that actually gives the cheapest groceries in the country?” Porter says. 

“If he’s concerned about jobs and development work in the district, why is he appealing that? 

“They think it’s good enough for them to be able to appeal against a supermarket but they don’t consider it’s appropriate for other people who are acting in the public interest.” 

Gapes has said he’s appealing the supermarket approval because it pre-empts wider planning decisions. 

Porter says he’s challenging the Five Mile decision because it should have been notified for public submissions. 

“It’s a non-complying application for something that amounts to a plan change and plan changes are always notifiable. 

“This is not for something inconsequential – this is for something that is half the size of downtown Queenstown.” 

Porter says he’s been warning the council for a year that the Five Mile application needs to be notified. 

“We’re not trying to be difficult for [Gapes], we are not trying to hold him up.” 

Porter adds his intention to challenge the Five Mile consent is no hollow threat. 

If the council can respond urgently to an information request, his challenge should be issued within two weeks, he says. 

In his statement last week, Porter says Gapes is seeking to use Events Centre land for carparking. 

Gapes, in reply, says his development will occupy 8600sq m of re­creation land but in return is providing 22,900sq m to Lakes Leisure. 

“If it’s a good deal, then there should be no problem with it being publicly notified so the public can have a say,” 
Porter says. 

Gapes, meanwhile, is convinced the High Court will uphold the council’s “robust” decision.