Golfer chips in to controversial SHA subdivision

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A golfing personality who’s pitched against overdevelopment in the Wakatipu has a slice of a contentious subdivision.

Arrowtowner Greg Turner (right) has a 10 per cent stake in Laurel Hills Ltd, which is planning a 156-home special housing area (SHA) wedged between Queenstown’s Ladies Mile highway and Shotover Country.

The SHA’s been overwhelmingly slammed by submittors to the local council, many fearing it will worsen existing traffic congestion.

Turner, a golf course designer and former European Tour pro, supported Hollywood actor Sam Neill’s campaign, in 2001, against the pro-growth policies of then-local mayor Warren Cooper.

At the time, he told Cooper-type council could force him out of the Wakatipu.

“I’m deeply worried by the rate of and the manner of modification of the area – and if it wasn’t to be stemmed, I’m not sure it’s the sort of place I would want to live in long-term,” he said.

Interviewed last week, Turner says he was asked by friend to become a Laurel Hills shareholder – “I don’t think I consider myself to be a developer”.

He’s motivated by the SHA’s potential to increase Queenstown’s supply of affordable housing – “everybody says we need more houses, but nobody wants them near them”.

And he understands, in a catch-22 situation, that new developments are needed in this area to attract funding to fix the traffic problem.

“I can understand why people get emotional about the traffic – I’d be pissed off if I was in there every morning.

“But again, you don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

“What I generally believe is the problem’s not going to go away by not doing stuff.”

While no traffic expert, he suggests “we’ve got to get more accustomed to public transport”.

Turner also says that every businessperson he talks to has a problem employing people, and that’s because they can’t afford to live here.

“So there’s a case to be made, do we want to shut the place down, but then the billionaires chase out the millionaires.

“Is that what you want?”

Turner says the Laurel Hills developers are mostly locals.

“It’s not a bunch of shiny shoes from somewhere else, so there is a genuine interest in trying to be a solution as much as anything.”

Councillors will decide next month whether to approve the SHA in principle, as recommended by council staff.