Megabucks projects bogged down in Frankton planning nightmare

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A LABORIOUS planning wrangle over multi-million dollar developments in Frankton looks set to rumble on for another year.
 
Several heavyweight developers want to build supermarkets and other commercial enterprises on Frankton Flats, which is being “re-zoned” from rural land. 

It has also been earmarked as a possible site for a new high school. 

Nine appeals relating to developments on the site go to Environment Court hearings in January. 

But Queenstown Lakes District councillors were told yesterday they can expect another delay – because the judge will be unavailable to wrap up the finer details. 

Judge J E Borthwick is the third judge to preside over matters relating to the Plan Change 19, since the project began in 2007. 

She will be unavailable for six months after the hearings – which means much of the site cannot be re-zoned until 2013. 

A Environment Court spokesperson would only say resourcing of the bench is “a matter for discussion between the Attorney-General and the Principal Environment Judge.” 

Cr Cath Gilmour says the delays are “incredibly frustrating”. 

“It makes a total mockery of central government slating local authorities and the RMA for holding resource consents up. 

“It puts everything on hold and leaves us basically in a state of suspended limbo. 

“I’m sure we share some of the blame overall but this shows it is not all the council’s fault,” Gilmour says.

“What appear to be resource shortages in the Environment Court are compounding delays that have already occurred.” 

The re-zoning enables commercial, residential and industrial development on what is currently designated “rural general” land. 

The site has become a planning battleground for several developers, including Foodstuff’s South Island. It is one of the parties appealing against a rejected planning consent, for its $30 million Pak ‘n’ Save supermarket. 

Queenstown Airport, Remarkables Park developers Alastair, John and Neville Porter, Auckland-based developer Tony Gapes and Lakes Leisure all have plans for the area. 

The Ministry of Education has also earmarked the site as a possible area for a new high school, Philip Pannett, general manager policy and planning, told councillors of the delay at the Queenstown Lakes District Council strategy committee yesterday. 

“It is a big case,” he says. 

“There is a lack of resource at times. I don’t know why this particular judge is out for those six months, but previous ones were taken out for Board of Inquiry. 

“We lost hearings set down a year ago.” 

The judge is expected to issue an interim decision but will then adjourn the court in April.