Five Mile development faces court appeal

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A High Court appeal has been lodged against planning approval for Queenstown’s $120 million Five Mile shopping complex.

Queenstown Lakes District Council gave consent for Auckland developer Tony Gapes’ shopping complex, on Frankton Flats’ ‘Hendo’s Hole’ site, three months ago.

However the Porter brothers’ Shotover Park Ltd last week applied for a judicial review of that consent in the Invercargill High Court.

Shotover Park Ltd has developed an industrial/commercial subdivision on the Frankton Flats.

The Porter brothers – who also developed the nearby Remarkables Park shopping complex – argue Gapes’ planning application should have been notified for public submissions.

Instead, it was approved on a non-notified basis.

Gapes believes the judicial review is simply an act of trade competition by the Porters and an attempt to delay him for their advantage.

But Shotover Park’s Alastair Porter says his company spent about 18 months warning council regulator Lakes Environmental that the Five Mile application, because it was so major, needed to be notified.

“We actually tried to avoid a judicial review to try and avoid any comments about slowing [Five Mile] down.

“If it had been notified, everything would have been dealt with long ago.”

In August, Porter told Mountain Scene: “It’s a non-complying application for something that amounts to a plan change and plan changes are always notifiable.

“This is not for something inconsequential – this is for something that is half the size of downtown Queenstown.”

The Porters’ lawyer John Young says their statement of claim boils down to two issues.

“We’re saying that the council didn’t have adequate information to make the decision not to notify.

“The other issue is, is there a valid decision anyway?

“The question is, whose decision is it, is it Lakes Environmental’s, [planning commissioner Denis] Nugent’s, or some combination of both?

“And why was [original planning commissioner] Jane Sinclair removed from the case when it seemed her view was it should be notified?”

Gapes states that the judicial review application is “purely an act of trade competition and one that we will be staunchly defending as there is very little substance to it”.

“It is a blatant attempt by [Alastair] Porter to delay us for his own advantage as he is competing with us for tenants in an inferior location.

“We find it ironic that the president of the Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, whose stated aim is to be the “voice in the community that facilitates and supports business excellence”, is the one person who is trying to stop this development through actions that the Government and the courts have sought to stamp out.

“Despite Porter’s claims, [Five Mile company] Queenstown Gateway Ltd has not involved itself at any level in seeking to disrupt any of the Porters’ developments.

“Therefore it finds it extremely disappointing that Porter does not feel able to simply compete on a location and commercial terms basis rather than turning to the courts as an attempt to make his development successful.

“If it wasn’t for this, we are ready to begin construction, providing Queenstown with some badly-needed retail competition that the Porter developments do not bring to the district, and a great deal of employment both during construction and once the centre is open and operating.”

Porter is stepping down from the presidency of the Chamber of Commerce next month.