Special housing scolding


Housing Minister Nick Smith is giving Queenstown’s council a ticking-off for slowness on fast-tracked houses.

Developers of the resort’s first special housing area development, Bridesdale Farm, have told contracted buyers it’s missed the road-sealing season and now won’t issue titles till next February.

They blame the council’s “inordinate delay in processing and approving the resource consent application”.

Smith tells Mountain Scene he’s hesitant to pass judgement on specific developments, which have individual challenges.

“However, overall the housing supply and affordability issues in the Queenstown Lakes district have become more challenging, it’s even more important that progress is being made.

“I’m not satisfied that sufficient land is being freed up in the Queenstown Lakes district and that is an issue that I’ll be raising further in my next meeting with the council next month.”

The government will put further pressure on councils to free up land for housing under resource management law changes and by creating a national policy statement on urban development.

The 134-house Bridesdale Farm subdivision got final approval from council-appointed commissioners last month.

Earthworks started this week.

Developer Chris Meehan won’t comment but a letter from Bridesdale Farm Developments Ltd to buyers says it will seal roads later this year and titles are expected to be issued in February next year.

The company apologised for the delay, adding “however in this instance it is beyond our control”.

Council planning boss Tony Avery doesn’t accept the “inordinate delay” line.

“It was a complex application and the resource consent hearing went longer than anticipated due to the time taken by the applicant to state their case, allowing time for submitters to present evidence, and the complexity of the issues at hand.”

Earlier this week, the council said it was struggling to issue building consents within the 20-day statutory timeframe.

Between January 1 and April 19, the council issued 421 building consents. Of those, 114 – or 27 per cent – were issued after 20 days or longer.

Over the same period last year, only eight were issued late out of 381 consents issued.