YOUR WORD: The council’s taking our rights away – are you next?

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Discussions by district councillors at last month’s council meeting raised some serious concerns for me, writes Keri Lemaire-Sicre.

It reinforced what most of us have known for some time.

That is, the special housing areas are not providing affordable housing – the very need it was set up by the government to address.

Market rates dictate the price that houses sell for.

Councillors admitted they had “no control over this”.

So why is the council supporting a fast-tracked SHA process to allow mass development on Ladies Mile that clearly is not going to provide affordable housing for those that need it most?

This was raised by Salvation Army’s Hine Marchand in the public forum.

Some councillors say they have no faith in our proposed district plan.

They see the SHA process as a better way of placing tighter controls on development.

That leaves us, the community, without a fair hearing through this very one-sided process, set up by government to fast-track development.

Once the council approves a SHA it’s pretty much a done deal, with Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith signing it off as a formality.

In fact, according to the Nick Smith has already given his blessing to Queenstown’s council for a SHA on Ladies Mile.

He says if the council needs an extension to the SHA process beyond 2019 he’ll consider this.

Is this the way you want Queenstown’s development managed for the future?

Through a process that clearly leaves us, the community, out?

A process that gives developers an unfair advantage to develop, with no consideration of existing land use?

A process that puts money in their pockets and destroys our beautiful landscape?

Development threat: Ladies Mile

In the 26 years I have lived in Queenstown this is the second attempt at getting a proposed district plan in place to ensure Queenstown develops in a way that does not destroy the beauty that so many tourists come to see.

We have all been aware of the way in which some developers have ridden roughshod over the town, building what they want and where they want.

Their pathway of development, in many cases, is a precedent for more inappropriate development.

We have seen amazing, dedicated people working for the council over the years trying to implement the policies that should ensure good, sensible development – only to see our council consent to developments outside the guidelines of their own policies.

We see that even now, during the proposed district plan process.

A process through which our council will spend millions of ratepayer dollars to complete.

Surely it’s common sense to put a hold on any new development that sabotages the plan before it has a chance to be completed.

And our council has the ability to do this.

What do we know?

The proposed district plan has been set in motion to provide good, sensible development through a fair process overseen by an independent body.

The SHA process does not deliver affordable housing – certainly not in a tourist resort such as Queenstown.

The SHA process prevents the community from having a fair say.

It only benefits the developers and undermines our proposed district plan process.

On the council’s website, under council evidence for the plan’s ‘stream 13’, you can see that council’s own staff have confirmed that there is sufficient land set aside for housing without the need to establish a SHA on Ladies Mile.

So what’s our council’s agenda?

Why have they spent our limited rates dollars putting together a master plan for mass development along our beautiful entranceway to Queenstown, when it is not required?

And why is the fate of our boarding kennels and cattery being decided by community feedback?

Well, that’s how our council can control development – by using a process that takes away our rights.

Let’s hope you’re not the next one.

Keri and husband Roland own and operate Ladies Mile Pet Lodge