Packed meeting on SHA plans


Four special housing area (SHA) applications will be subjected to more scrutiny before the Queenstown’s council considers recommending them to the Government for approval.

Opponents of SHAs in the Arrowtown area have some breathing space after none of the four proposed for around the township got a tick at yesterday’s full council meeting.

The four applications that will proceed another step are Shotover Country, Arthurs Point North, Onslow Road and Highview Terrace, which together propose 175 residential lots.

In a motion put forward by Cr Cath Gilmour, the council agreed to have the four proposals assessed by a working group made up of the council’s chief financial officer, chief engineer and an independent adviser.

They will consider the infrastructure requirements of each and conclude “private developer agreements” on the funding and timing of any upgrades required.

The proposals will also require sign-off by the New Zealand Transport Authority, Otago Regional Council and Ministry of Education.

A report on each will be produced “so that council can with confidence recommend qualifying proposals to the Minister”.

Council planning and development general manager Marc Bretherton was also instructed to prepare a report on how to “progress the broader issues of housing affordability in the district”.

An SHA application by the family trust of chief executive Adam Feeley – now the subject of an Auditor-general inquiry – was scarcely mentioned at the meeting after Mayor Vanessa van Uden successfully gained councillors’ support to allow the application to stay under consideration.

The number of applications lodged with the council now stands at 11 after two – Quail Rise South and Homestead Bay – were withdrawn shortly before yesterday’s meeting.

Bretherton told councillors they would have to grapple with “planning and infrastructure complexities” associated with the SHAs proposed for Arrowtown.

Cr Mel Gazzard says Arrowtown’s urban boundary had made the township unaffordable, while Cr Gilmour says its residents had to ”accept responsibility for its share of the growth” in the district.

New Arrowtown councillor Scott Stevens says there are plenty of opportunities for affordable residential development within the township’s urban boundary through land already consented for that purpose and higher density housing.

The meeting’s public forum attracted the biggest turnout seen in years, with more than 20 speakers extending its length to over an hour.

Fourteen people spoke about special housing areas, with proposals for Ayrburn Farm and Highview Terrace attracting strong criticism.

An emotional Van Uden brought the SHA discussion to a close with a strongly-worded message to the public about personal abuse she and councillors had been subjected to over the issue.

“We want to hear what you think, but we don’t want to be insulted on the way through.”

Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith will visit Queenstown next week to discuss special housing areas with the council.