Bunfight over poached public land


Queenstown’s real estate supremo is caught up in a council bun-fight over poached public land.

Kelvin Collins, who heads Queenstown’s Harcourts franchise, is also local Real Estate Institute of New Zealand frontman.

Passion Cove, a company he co-owns and directs, has been ordered by Queenstown’s council to remove two buildings illegally occupying lakeside reserve land above the Frankton Track.

The two garage-size buildings are old spa rooms, Collins says, built in the 1970s or 80s as part of the sprawling Alpine Village complex.

Most of Alpine Village was bought by Passion Cove in 2009, with Collins buying 40 per cent of the development company in 2012.

Paperwork from the council’s property subcommittee alleges the “encroachment” of the two buildings breaches the Reserves Act.

An official report pondered three options - “instructing Passion Cove to move the building [sic] back onto their land, selling Passion Cove the part of the reserve they are currently illegally occupying, or doing nothing”.

However, a letter had already gone to Passion Cove in March, ordering it to remove the buildings - a decision ratified by the subcommittee last month.

Despite the official edict, Collins says he and Passion Cove partner Bob Perriam of Cromwell are in discussions with council contractor APL Property.

Collins isn’t even sure there is an encroachment.

“The buildings may or may not have been on the wrong land - for something like 30-odd years.

“At this stage, we don’t know the final solution but we’re working through it with council.”

Collins says his company’s put alternative suggestions to APL but they’re yet to get a response.

He and his partner Perriam prefer to remove the buildings “when the property is developed”.

“There’s no one jumping up and down about this thing yet.”

Their company’s looking for solutions other than removing the buildings, he says.

Collins adds the site “is probably going to be demolished in the next five years in any case”.

Mountain Scene: Are you planning a major development?

Collins: “No, we’re not - but no doubt it will happen at some stage.”

Comment was sought from council assets manager Peter Hansby but there was no response by deadline.