Contentious proposal: An architect's impression of an 89-room hotel proposed below the Kamana Lakehouse hotel

Residents in an exclusive Queenstown subdivision fear a proposed eight-storey hotel will destroy their neighbourhood.

The Aspen Grove residents are up in arms over a resource consent application for a $100 million, six-star hotel sloping down from Fernhill’s Kamana Lakehouse — formerly Aspent Hotel — which they say “massively” exceeds planning rules for the area.

“This oppressive jumble of 89 units will destroy the residential character of our neighbourhood,” a flyer produced by two local couples says.

“It will create noise and traffic chaos, both during its two-year construction phase and afterwards as many more vehicles will crowd our narrow streets.

“This is not the neighbourhood we want!”

They claim the tiered hotel will cover 71.3 per cent of the site, when it’s only allowed 45 per cent site coverage, and will exceed the eight-metre height limit by up to 15m.

However, Richard Hiles-Smith, project manager for the Asian-owned developer which also owns Kamana Lakehouse, says they considered options which complied with the site coverage “to be of a lesser quality, so we have endeavoured to step it back into the slope of the land and have green roofs to mitigate matters such as stormwater”.

The hotel also complies with boundary setback rules, he notes.

Lou Alfeld, a former local councillor and urban design panel chairman, who co-authored the flyer, says he was shocked to find the hotel had been proposed for the empty section.

He’d expected something in keeping with Aspen Grove’s “single-family residential character, given its medium-density zoning with visitor accommodation ‘overlay’.

“We do not want our amenity values dominated by the presence of an oversized, unwanted and obnoxious hotel that is completely out of place in our neighbourhood,” he says in his resource consent submission.

According to the architects, they’re planning “extensive use of green roofs and planters” to
mitigate the hotel’s larger-than-allowable site coverage.

“Nobody can see the green roofs so it does nothing to soften the landscape or anything else,” Alfeld tells Mountain Scene.

If the developer’s allowed that, “that would open a Pandora’s Box for [greater] density everywhere in the district”.

“There is no legal way the council could enforce someone to maintain their roof if all the grass died.”

Besides the green roofs helping with stormwater, Hiles-Smith says there’ll also be plants growing down the hotel’s vertical face.

Alfeld’s also concerned the hotel’s “labyrinth” design will make it hard for guests to get out or emergency personnel to get in if there’s an emergency.

The project manager, however, says the layout has to comply with the building code, “and confirming access by emergency services is part of the approval process”.

Alfeld claims, too, that the hotel will block views of the Ben Lomond mountain range, particularly for neighbours living below it.

Not true, Hiles-Smith says.

“We’ve done modelling from houses below the site, and do not anticipate anyone’s views of Ben Lomond being changed from what they currently are.”

‘Dangerous’: Neighbour Lisandra Macaes, below the site of the proposed hotel

Another neighbour, Lisandra Macaes, who co-wrote the flyer, believes a major issue is the traffic the hotel will generate, including service vehicles, given the narrow surrounding roads.

There’s potentially another 89 vehicles on streets where you already have to give way to
oncoming traffic because of all the cars parked on both sides, she points out.

It’s a dangerous situation, she says.

She also asks where all the promised 90-plus staff will park, even if only half of them have cars.

The developer’s proposing a 91-space underground carpark which will accommodate both guests and staff, Hiles-Smith says, and is “significantly more” than planning rules require.

“Operationally, measures will also be in place to promote staff travelling by foot or public transport — this has been successful at Kamana Lakehouse, with very few staff using private vehicles.”

● Submissions close with the council and planner John Edmonds & Associates at 5pm Friday, January 24.