Two community groups scrap over same council site

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A community housing trust and a community/sports group are scrapping over valuable council-owned land in Arrowtown. 

At stake is Arrowtown Camping Ground land by Jack Reid Park, where 18 cabins are being removed in the next two years. Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust claims the council encouraged it to develop six affordable homes on the 6000sq m site – and has drawn up a concept plan. 

At the same time, the Arrowtown Community and Sports Centre Incorporated is planning a $2 million multi-use facility for the same spot – and also claims Queenstown Lakes District Council encouragement. 

Trust chairman David Cole says they’d originally planned 25-30 houses in Arrowtown’s Jopp Street, but council last year excluded it from the town’s residential boundary. 

“Councillors, I think, have been rather embarrassed and said ‘Maybe you should look at Suffolk Street’, where the old cabins are,” Cole says. 

Meanwhile, the commun-ity/sports centre’s multi-use facility would include indoor and outdoor courts to serve 25 community, sporting, arts and hobby groups. It already has concept plans for the site, including part of Jack Reid Park – Arrowtown’s rugby ground. 

Founding member Simon Spark says his group met mayor Vanessa van Uden, Arrowtown councillor Lex Perkins and an official two months ago. 

“We discussed affordable housing – they said it wasn’t a realistic plan. All of a sudden, David Cole contacted us and outlined they had an interest in the land as well.” 

Spark’s fellow group member Russell Gray adds: “We highlighted [this site] as where we’d like to consider our development and they didn’t raise that there may be a competing interest.” 

Cole says Suffolk St is chance for a similar but smaller scale development to the one it has at Lake Hayes Estate – and to meet growing needs in Arrowtown. 

“We get a lot of pressure from people who want to live in Arrowtown, because of the school – it’s very popular.” 

Cole believes the Arrowtown community/sports group can find an alternative location, like the Millbrook corner or Jopp St. 

“Sporting grounds and facilities don’t have to be in the heart of the town.” 

Spark says alternative sites don’t suit and questions the suitability of the Suffolk St site for housing. 

“I think there’s a bit of stigma with affordable housing, especially on that site. Are they going to be the sort of people that are really going to help the area, much? 

“If we can show the community wants this project, the housing trust won’t get a look-in.” 

Spark’s group intends seeking community feedback – including a petition soliciting support – before submitting a proposal to QLDC by the end of the year. 

Local councillor Lex Perkins says QLDC is waiting for a reserves management plan “to see what’s needed in Arrowtown”. 

“I don’t think both of those organisations should have gone down the track as far as they have.”
Mountain Scene: Did council encourage both groups? 

Perkins: “It’s just been private talks by councillors – full council’s never dis-cussed it.”