Village fast-track ‘underhand’: Dame


An Arrowtown retirement village developer’s been accused of trying to get approval through the back door.

Yesterday, the council revealed Arrowtown Lifestyle Retirement Village has applied to become a so-called special housing area.

It wants to build a $105 million development on a 20 hectare block off McDonnell Road.

If it’s fast-tracked, regular resource management requirements and public consultation rules will be bypassed.

Opponent Dame Elizabeth Hanan, who owns a property in Arrowtown, is appalled and says the developer is using underhand tactics to bypass the district plan.

However, village boss Aaron Armstrong says it meets the criteria and has community support.

Hanan’s gripe: it should be going through the proper process, not the back door.

She’s convinced it will ruin views, result in intensive urbanisation and put pressure on existing infrastructure.

“Everyone says, ‘Whoopty-doo, it’s a great idea, let’s have a retirement village’ but the location is not right. I’m not against a retirement village, but it should be in the right place.”

The joint venture between the Armstrong and Anderson families is on farmland owned by the Monk family.

Hanan thinks Arrowtowners want to keep the development boundary where it is.

Armstrong disagrees and says the site ticks all the boxes. He dismisses issues over traffic and says it will help the community by freeing up housing within Arrowtown itself.

The message he’s got from the local community is that it’s needed sharpish.

“People don’t want to wait years - and in some cases can’t - for a retirement village to be built. We are not trying to be underhand, it just meets the criteria.”

Following six public consultation meetings, the village plan’s got 280 letters of support - something Armstrong says backs his application.

In the pro-camp is the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association.

Chair Scott Julian says it’s well known there’s a serious shortage of accommodation for older people.

“We believe the proposal meets a regional community need, and has strong support in Arrowtown from both residents and the business community.”

Feedback to the council closes on November 24, ahead of a full council meeting on November 26.

Arrowtown councillor Scott Stevens reckons the majority of locals are in favour of the village.

“It is only fair we seek independent feedback and give those for and against the opportunity to give their opinions directly to us. Everybody knows the Wakatipu needs a [retirement] facility. Whether or not that’s the right space for it we will find out over the coming weeks.”

Arrowtown was the centre of public debate earlier this year, after several rural pieces of land were put forward as potential special housing areas, including a plot owned by council boss Adam Feeley’s family trust.

So far the only development to get official sign-off is Bridesdale Farm, next to Lake Hayes Estate. Its consent hearing resumes today.