Council to drop landbankers’ hike


Queenstown’s council is set to drop a controversial proposal to hike rates on landbankers.

Buried in a Queenstown Lakes District Council press statement yesterday afternoon was the council’s intention, subject to confirmation at its full meeting on Thursday, to shelve a proposal to increase rates on undeveloped farmland zoned for residential development.

Raising rates was the council’s attempt to tackle the housing crisis by encouraging landowners to develop their land.

As , the plan would have hit farmers with rates hikes of up to 154%.

In yesterday’s statement, mayor Vanessa van Uden says the council listened to submissions from landowners, who signalled they wanted to work together to encourage development.

However, the council is still likely to reduce rates on residential flats, to encourage affordable housing.

Just last week, Remarkables Park managing director Alastair Porter raised the spectre of legal action over the council’s proposed rates hike on undeveloped farmland, saying it was acting outside its powers.

Yesterday, he told the Otago Daily Times the council U-turn was appreciated.

“We definitely think working together is the most constructive approach.”

However, he was concerned at the council’s intention to shift funding for the Eastern Access Road – now known as Hawthorne Dr – from the next financial year to 2017-18.

The council says the funding shift is to align the work with NZ Transport Agency budgets.

Porter says the entire Queenstown community wants the road built as soon as possible, to ease congestion on the Frankton Flats and BP roundabout.

If the funding were to be split, he says the first stage should apply to connecting Hawthorne Drive to the south end of Glenda Dr, to help construction traffic at the new high school site and many other projects at Remarkables Park.

On another controversial matter, the council is dropping an idea to pay $500,000 for undergrounding power lines along Ladies Mile to save a row of trees.

Instead it has proposed allocating $10,000 a year for two years for pruning.

Extra spending flagged by the council yesterday includes.

  • $420,000 to fast-track a business case for the first stage of the inner links transport project, from Melbourne St to Henry St.
  • Almost $500,000 on community facility upgrades, including Wanaka’s A&P Showgrounds and the Queenstown Memorial Centre.
  • More than $300,000 for the Otago Southland Film Office and Wanaka’s The Cube.
  • Bringing forward funding to improve turf and drainage at the Queenstown Events Centre.

The overall rates rise being considered by councillors on Thursday is 2.99 per cent. That compares to 3.27 per cent predicted in the council’s 10-year plan and last year’s 1.2 per cent rise.

Van Uden says the council will undertake a master plan to address increased development demand and the government’s special housing areas programme.

For a residential property in Queenstown, worth the median of $670,176, the effect will be a 5.93 per cent rise, or $148, while the owner of a Wanaka residential property worth $551,708 will pay an extra $74, or 2.99 per cent.

For an Arrowtown property worth $547,408, there will be a 7.03 per cent rise, or $164.

Queenstown commercial property owners, with a median value of $1.23m, will pay an extra $15, or 0.25 per cent, while accommodation properties valued at $1.23m face a 4.33 per cent rise, or $373.

Otago Daily Times