Queenstown’s council is heading to Environment Court to make it easier to build houses and apartments.
The red tape-cutting move could see apartment blocks up to six storeys high being built in the resort, bypassing costly and time-consuming consents.
If the court endorses the council’s application – an attempt to deal with Queenstown’s chronic housing shortage – it will have immediate legal effect.
Councils often head to Environment Court to clamp down on seemingly inappropriate subdivisions.
But district plan boss Matthew Paetz believes the council’s justified in asking the court to bring in new rules which don’t currently exist.
A hearing will be held next month and a decision could be issued within six weeks.
Last year Queenstown’s council processed 1026 resource consent applications; Wellington city processed about 1000.
Council planning boss Marc Bretherton says: “That says there’s something not quite right with our district plan.”
He adds: “This is to fix a problem that we know exists in the district.
“We’d hope, because the need exists [and] we’re looking to fix a problem … there’s a [need] seen by the court and the community sees the need as well.”
New, less restrictive rules are contained in a proposed district plan. Submissions close on October 23.
Possible changes include relaxing rules on residential flats. Previously a residential flat had to be attached to an existing property but the proposed plan scraps that requirement.
Within low density residential areas, some infill development will be allowed in certain situations.
Need to know more?
• Drop-in sessions to discuss the proposed plan will be held on September 29 from 11am to 1pm at the Arrowtown Athenaeum Hall, Queenstown Events Centre and the Cinema Paradiso foyer and at the Queenstown Memorial Centre on September 30 from 11am to 1pm.
• A second round of sessions will be held at the Athenaeum Hall, Events Centre and Lake Wanaka Centre from 5pm to 7pm on October 6 and at the Queenstown Memorial Centre from 5.30pm to 7.30pm on October 7.
Otago Daily Times