Glenorchy divisions go on public show


Glenorchy’s dirty laundry will be aired in Queenstown today.

This morning, commissioners will start hearing a consent application for a high-spec new campground, backed by millionaire philanthropists Paul and Debbi Brainerd – an American couple who own a holiday home at the nearby exclusive Wyuna subdivision.

The whiz-bang proposal, by Pounamu Holdings, promises to deliver New Zealand , featuring solar panels and composting toilets, with the complex’s profits eventually ploughed into a community trust.

But all’s not well at the head of the lake.

The company states it has carried out a “long and involved” consultation.

Yet the hearing – publicly notified at their request – has attracted 49 submissions.

By comparison, there were 55 submissions on the council’s controversial plan change 50 – which proposes to extend Queenstown’s town centre zone and enable a convention centre to be built on the Lakeview site.

Queenstown has roughly 13,000 residents – Glenorchy has 360.

Earlier this year, Glenorchy Community Association secretary John Glover quit over the way a landswap between Pounamu and the council was handled.

Opponents accuse the company of aggressive planning, ignoring community wishes and hard-headedness.

The community association’s submission says there’s strong community support for the proposal.

The submission was based on a vote taken at the group’s March meeting – which wasn’t on the meeting’s agenda and only asked if people were in favour of Pounamu’s proposed building heights.

The submission’s writer, acting secretary Alan Temple, says he hasn’t read the application: “Not in its entirety, for some time.”

He confirms there was a community “call to arms” before the March meeting.

“We’ve tried to stay out of it,” Temple claims, adding: “My submission expressed the majority of the community’s feelings and opinions, without getting too supportive or negative about it.”

That doesn’t gel with the submission, however – which ticks the “support” box and notes “strong community backing” for the proposal.

Opponents are riled Pounamu plans to breach height restrictions and street setbacks – rules decided by the community over several years, and enshrined in the Queenstown council’s planning documents.

They’re also upset at the behaviour of the community association.

But is the “vocal minority” looking a gift horse in the mouth?

The Brainerds have helped the local school, revitalised the local store and plan to hand over profits from their new venture to the community.

“That’s part of it,” former association secretary Glover says. “But there’s also being a good neighbour and respecting some of the community processes is part of it as well.

“Do we as a community say that for the right amount of money we’ll abandon everything we’ve decided is important in the past? If the answer’s yes, let’s be open about it.”