Have consent, will sell land

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A 102-hectare rural Queenstown property consented for a valuable, hard-won 15-lot subdivision is on the market. 

Christchurch-based Mel Fordyce is selling his Littles Road farm after an often-heated 20-year battle to subdivide it. 

The Environment Court issued a consent order allowing the subdivision in December, six months after a resource consent application – originally for 18 lots – was refused by Queenstown Lakes District Council commissioners. 

The 15 lots range from 1.19 to 24 hectares. 

Taking advantage of the undulating land, building platforms have been chosen to try to hide houses from each other. 

Approvals for infrastructure like roading, water and stormwater have also been granted. 

David Penrose, a local agent for New Zealand Sotheby’s International Realty, says the Dalefield property – being marketed internationally – is special and unique and offers unsurpassed views. 

“It’s a great opportunity for someone to take it to the next stage as a rural lifestyle development.” 

Penrose says a lot of the value lies in the subdivision consent. 

“The opportunity to be able to purchase another parcel of land with this potential for development will be incredibly difficult. 

“It’s highly unlikely council will grant consent to this type of development in the near future.” 

The property’s been valued at $7 million but Penrose says would-be buyers will have to do their due diligence. 

Asked what it might fetch, Fordyce replies: “How long’s a piece of string? 

“It’s what people think they can make out of these blocks.” 

Fordyce says a new owner might develop the whole subdivision or just sell off a block at a time. 

“He also could of course throw this subdivision out the window and say, ‘well, let’s do one of my own’.” 

The property includes two lots on the south side of Littles Road, straddling Fitzpatrick Rd – one of those lots is also on a separate title. 

Fordyce says there’s room for negotiation over this piece, while vendor finance is also available. 

According to the Environment Court consent order, Fordyce has to surrender some land adjoining Littles Rd for a recreation reserve. 

Judge Jon Jackson states: “The ‘pastoral management areas’ look like a reasonable attempt to retain the open character along this part of Littles Rd and the developers are to be congratulated for that.” 

Fordyce responds: “If Jon Jackson compliments you, you can believe you’re doing the right thing.” 

It’s praise the developer hasn’t been used to. 

In past times he’s had almost all his neighbours up in arms over his subdivision plans. 

A Dalefield Community Action Group – including local-based star actor Sam Neill – even sprang up to fight those plans. 

The group feared intensive subdivision would ruin the neighbouring environment. 

Fighting fire with fire, Fordyce accused many of his critics of being hypocrites for building homes on subdivided land themselves. 

Fordyce says he was badly advised by a consultant who suggested he try to subdivide his farm into 96 blocks. 

“I don’t think that’s what people want to get out in the country for,” he says. 

Now he wants to put past battles behind him: “That’s water under the bridge.” 

Expressions of interest for the sale of his property close March 1.