Landscapes overprotected say owners and developers


A who’s who of Queenstown developers and landowners say the proposed district plan is weighted too heavily in favour of protecting rural landscapes.

Rebecca Wolt told hearing commissioners in the resort yesterday the plan placed too much importance on traditional farming at a time ‘‘very few farmers within the Wakatipu Basin derive their incomes solely from farming”.

Wolt, counsel for Trojan Helmet – a family company of jewellery magnate Sir Michael Hill – says many other activities requiring a rural location, particularly in tourism, are major employers and drawcards for the district.

Outstanding natural landscapes or features needed protection from inappropriate use and development.

But for other rural landscapes, the district plan should focus on ‘‘managing the effects of subdivision, use and development, as opposed to protection”.

Planning consultant Jeff Brown told commissioners growth is inevitable in the district.

That fact had to be accepted and its effects properly managed.

Brown, giving evidence on behalf of 10 submitters including Ayrburn Farm Estate and Bridesdale Farm Developments, says the plan was over-regulatory and could frustrate appropriate development in rural areas.

Golf courses, skifields, rural living and other activities deserved the same status as farming in the district plan.

Warwick Goldsmith, counsel for Shotover Country and Mt Cardrona Station, as well as Ayrburn Farm Estate and Bridesdale Farm Developments, criticised the plan’s endorsement of urban growth boundaries (UGB) for Queenstown and Wanaka.

Most of the Queenstown UGB corresponded with existing boundaries for zoning and outstanding natural landscapes and features that had ‘‘rarely, if ever” been successfully legally challenged, Goldsmith says.

There was also no evidence supporting a claim the Queenstown UGB would better connect residential areas through infrastructure, transport networks and community facilities. 

The hearing of submissions on the first stage of the review, which began last week, is expected to continue until November.