Homes on horizon for The Hills

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Jewellery magnate Sir Michael Hill’s family has plans for up to 150 homes on its Arrowtown golf course.

The Hills golf course’s family-owned company, Trojan Helmet Ltd, has proposed a ‘resort zone’ in its submission to the Queenstown council’s proposed district plan.

Other local championship courses, Millbrook and Jack’s Point, are surrounded by high-end housing, but the only homes at The Hills are owned by Hill’s family, along with an exclusive lodge.

Hill’s daughter, Trojan Helmet director Emma Hill, says the housing would be clustered in eight ‘activity areas’ that are “visually subservient to the landscape and land forms”.

Not only that, but 97 per cent of the Hills’ land would be retained as open space.

The homes would include terrace-style housing, more visitor accommodation and staff housing, Emma says.

She agrees the development would help offset the cost of maintaining The Hills’ 18-hole course, which co-hosts the NZ Open, and a new nine-holer.

Despite 200 family memberships and high green fees, Emma, in her statement of evidence to a district plan hearing in June, said “presently the golf course does not contribute an economic return”.

Emma tells Mountain Scene: “We’ve had a huge range of experts debate this [proposed zone] over three years to make sure that we end up with something we all feel is right for the land ‘cos it is our backyard and it is pretty darn important for us what it looks and feels like.”

In 2007, the year the course opened, Sir Michael applied for a resource consent for 17 ‘bunker’ homes.

About 80 per cent of each home was to be underground – a bit like The Hills Clubhouse.

Though consented, the development didn’t go ahead.

“We think there’s a better way to develop the land,” Emma says.

She adds there’s also space to extend the Clubhouse, “so we could consider conference facilities or another restaurant”.

The ‘resort zone’ would also include a public walkway/cycleway linking McDonnell Road with Hogans Gully.

It’s thought the hearing panel’s decision will come out early next year.

scoop@scene.co.nz