Not just for the wealthy

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A developer says a proposed 2400-home extension to Queenstown’s Jack’s Point will dispel ideas the subdivision’s only for the well-heeled. 

Queenstown Lakes District Council last week allowed Australian-based RCL Group to publicly notify a private plan change for 520 hectares at Henley Downs, north of Jack’s Point. 

Under the district plan there’s already approval for this land – part of the Jack’s Point Resort Zone – to accommodate 1364 residences. 

RCL Group, however, is now pushing for about another 1000. 

“We always felt the masterplan was undercooked,” RCL Group boss David Wightman says. 

“We’ve gone for more efficient use of the land and greater development of the land. 

“And we’re going for a broader palette of density so the product menu that we offer to the market will be different as well. 

“It will be a variety of sections and different sorts of neighbourhoods which will go to [improving] affordability and, in our experience, will probably boost the vibrancy of the community.” 

Wightman says there’s been a feeling Jack’s Point is an exclusive precinct where only the well-heeled can live. 

“I think it’s a bit of a myth but I want to absolutely and utterly dispel that myth. 

“It’s open for business for everyone and I think the best communities are ones that are accessible by everyone.” 

Apart from standard-size sections, Henley Downs will offer units, townhouses and lifestyle properties, Wightman says. 

“We’d like to think we might get retirement village operators coming in there as well at some stage.” 

In an information flyer, RCL Group argues the plan change will ensure better outcomes for the environment and urban design. 

“There are of course commercial advantages for RCL in being able to build more houses in Henley Downs but there can also be wider community benefits in allowing this to occur. 

“If development can be well accommodated in Henley Downs, it should help take pressure off developing many of the more sensitive rural areas of the Wakatipu.” 

Wightman adds: “I don’t know that we’ll get to 2400 lots when it’s all developed in 15 years’ time or something like that, but there certainly won’t be as few as what it could have been.” 

Subject to approval, development could start next year, he says. 

Before any sections go to market, however, he’s keen the existing Jack’s Point stock sells out. 

Wightman believes his company can help out by improving some of Jack’s Point’s community infrastructure such as the Clubhouse which it also owns. 

This could include selling convenience products “so if someone wants a litre of milk it’s not a 15-minute drive”.
Jack’s Point Residents and Owners Association chairman Steve McIsaac welcomes the plan change. 

“It goes a long way to ensuring the delivery of developer John Darby’s original vision. 

“Jack’s Point was always going to be an inclusive community of 6000 people – and with the correction in land values, we’re already seeing a lot of locals make Jack’s Point their home. 

“There’s enough land resource at Henley Downs, including flat land, to meet the market at all price points. 

“You’re going to get your small 300sq m section potentially all the way up to your upper-end section. 

“There are about five different categories that make up a community and at the moment we’re heavy in the family, single residential dwelling product.” 

McIsaac estimates Jack’s Point will sell out its original 690 titled lots within the next three years. 

Given that sections take about two years to come to market, he says the timing would be ideal for RCL Group to be selling Henley Downs sections from about 2016.