Parting Shot: Council zoning change overdue


Our mayor once asked me if I didn’t like Queenstown’s council. In a way, I think that’s a fair enough question.

People who aren’t in newspapers don’t appreciate the inner workings of Scene Towers or why we do what we do.

Motivation seems at the heart of Vanessa van Uden’s question.

If you look at what’s happened under my editorship the council has had what some people might call a rough ride.

That’s not because of any nefarious reason on my part - I’m not out to “get them”.

As I said to Vanessa that day, I don’t hold a grudge against her organisation.

But if we uncover a story - whether it’s deemed “good” or “bad” - we’ll write it.

The council is at a disadvantage because so much of its information is public, or should be.

Plus, given the brutal restructuring at a big employer in a small town, many whispers reach our ears.

Don’t take that as sympathy. The council is our agent - they collect and spend our money.

One of the Scene’s most important jobs, in my view, is to make sure they’re doing that wisely.

But it can’t be all one-way traffic.

If this was simply a rag of conflict, scandal and dirty laundry then negativity and fear would rule these pages.

And I don’t want that. We should also celebrate achievements and commend wise thinking.

That’s what I did last week, when I told Vanessa I thought her council has got it right with its for Gorge Road (right).

The idea of zoning large swathes of land between Queenstown’s CBD and Industrial Place for six-storey apartments is a winner, I reckon.

It’s something I’ve heard bandied about for years and, for me, it just makes sense.

This town’s biggest issue is housing - and that necessarily affects every other part of this resort.

Some restaurants complain they can’t get chefs for love or money. Law firms are struggling to attract lawyers.

Hate abounds on social media at the “greed” of landlords charging $800 a week for a three-bedroom house.

Surely building apartments within cooee of town will help. Here’s my crystal ball view of things.

Apartments built on a large scale save developers money. Cheaper housing means cheaper rents.

In a perfect world, the renters in areas above Frankton Rd and in Fernhill and Sunshine Bay would flock to the area - easing pressure in those suburbs.

They wouldn’t need cars, as they could walk to town and the supermarket, which would unclog our roads, slightly.

Gorge Rd is away from the main tourist trails, so it won’t encroach on our most photographed vistas.

I reckon it’ll be the beating heart of town, surging with energy and life.

Yes, it’s an area that sees little sun in winter. But show me an area of flat land close to town that does.

Kiwis have learnt a few things about building since they slapped up uninsulated cabins in a winter resort, waited for the mould to accumulate and then rented them out.

What about people who own rental homes in nearby suburbs?

To my mind, they’ve enjoyed the golden years and I hope they’ve stuffed a little of their rental money aside.

A council-led change to downtown apartments should have always been in the back of their mind.

Markets ebb and flow. Look at Auckland’s over-heated housing market, which seems to be cooling off.

People need to expect change if things get out of kilter. And Queenstown rents and house prices are off-the-charts skewed.

Change is needed. This is a slice of paradise and people will continue to come here, despite the difficulties.

The question is, how long will they stay?

In the old days the ‘rule’ was you didn’t bother getting close to a person until they’d stayed for six months, in case they left.

Why should that be the case? For the good of the town, long-term, apartments need to be built close to town.

Of course, it needs big developers to pick up the idea - but the council’s proposal is a step in the right direction.