Land poacher to pay

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Development encroaches on reserve – cough up, says QLDC.

Queenstown Lakes District Council is insisting a development company pay up for poaching public land.

A privately-owned commercial complex at 51 Gorge Road has accidentally overstepped its boundaries – eating into Queenstown Hill by about 100 square metres, claims QLDC.

The prominent “Red Barn” – housing tenants Costume Central and Video Ezy – was developed by High Peaks Ltd in 2004.

A Companies Office check shows High Peaks is owned by prominent local developer Arthur Anderson and Jillian Anderson of Dalefield.

But Arthur Anderson denies any involvement with the development – either when first built or subsequently – and won’t comment.

An official council report says High Peaks notified QLDC of the building’s intrusion last October via its planners.

Parts of the private property eating into public land include:

  • 1.54sq m of a building
  • 10.9sq m of a retaining wall
  • seven car parks.

The report by Lakes Property Services property manager Colette Farrer points the finger at builders for the slip-up and delay in alerting QLDC.

“The building contractors were instructed to build as per the resource consent granted and survey the buildings…however it is apparent that this has not occurred,” Farrer says.

She notes High Peaks “entered into negotiations” with the unnamed builders and “withheld payments … to try and resolve this issue of encroachment” – but the builders didn’t play ball, “not accepting responsibility for the mistake”.

QLDC now wants High Peaks to buy the poached land – and pay for a barrier to stop rocks falling onto parked cars.

An independent valuation is yet to put a price tag on the public dirt.

The report says the poaching stems from “the irregular shape of the property”. It also observes that the structures on reserve land are “required to prevent damage to vehicles and to the building”.

Plans show a fan-shaped 1217sq m section with the broadest end-boundary positioned about five metres from the rock face of Queenstown Hill.

A neighbouring property similarly bulges onto public land but QLDC granted its owners a lease for that area in 2005, the report notes.

Now, however, Department of Conservation lawyers are advising the council not to allow any more commercial leases on reserve land.

Farrer says it could take “a good couple of months” for QLDC to consult with ratepayers and get approval from the Minister of Conservation to sell the reserve land.

She recommends High Peaks pay market price – plus possibly a donation to the Wakatipu Trails Trust – as well as stumping up for the cost of the land transfer.