Warning shot over road funding

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Symbolic start: Jim Boult (left) and Simon Bridges turn the first sods on Queenstown's eastern access road PICTURE: OTAGO DAILY TIMES

Frankton developer Alastair Porter’s fired a warning shot over a move to make his firms pay millions of dollars for a major new road.

Queenstown’s council wants to pass on almost its entire financial contribution to the $22 million eastern access road to surrounding landowners.

It’s proposed changing the rules to target those landowners, rather than spreading the cost over the whole district.

It will mean higher contributions from future developments on the land.

The road will run from Remarkables Park to Frankton Ladies Mile highway, via the rear of Queenstown Airport. Ground was broken on the project last week. But, Porter says, not so fast.

“It’s what I regard as a very unfair decision by the previous council, not the current one.

“We’ve been paying development contributions payments for years for roads all round the basin, including Malaghans Road up by Arrowtown.

“Why are they suddenly changing the model?”

Porter Group Ltd owns about 67 per cent of the land, more than 100 hectares. It no longer owns Remarkables Park Town Centre itself.

The balance of the land is owned by Queenstown Central Ltd, 22ha, Queenstown Airport Corporation, 28ha, and other smaller landowners, about 20ha.

The council’s position is the road is needed due to “growth” and such projects are paid for through contributions from development.

And, it says, those deve-lopment contributions should come only from those who will have a direct benefit from the road rather than the whole district.

Council-commissioned analysis shows only eight per cent of vehicles using the road by 2045 will be passing straight through.

The other 92 per cent will be accessing local housing and businesses.

Porter reckons the analysis is “totally flawed”.

“It’s quite clearly a link road. It’s an arterial road which is going to serve as a bypass for BP corner.”

Secondly, Porter says, the road will be used to access the high school and existing town centre – but they won’t be asked to stump up cash.

Remarkables Park Ltd, part of Porter Group, has a legal agreement dated February 2014 with the previous council, Porter says.

Back then, the council agreed to seek money from NZ Transport Agency and build the road by May 2015, he says – or give RPL a credit if it contributed.

“So are they now asking us to pay for the road by way of a development contribution and then take a credit?”

He’s prepared to go to court. The government’s agreed to pay $7.6m of the total project.

Queenstown’s council was approached for comment but didn’t respond before deadline.

Submissions on the ‘Frankton Flats Transportation Development Contribution’ have closed.

A hearing’s scheduled for this month.

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz