Clear-felled: Arthurs Point Outstanding Natural Landscape Society chair Tom Dery in front of the hill before tree-felling began

Developer downsizes proposed Arthurs Point housing development

An Arthurs Point developer’s gone back to the drawing board, and is now proposing a reduced housing development on land caught up in a legal wrangle for more than three years.

But one of the opponents to Gertrude’s Saddlery Ltd’s (GSL) plans for the land, deemed ‘outstanding natural landscape’, says if it proceeds, the development will ‘‘destroy the whole area’’.

GSL originally bought the site, which totals just under 6 hectares, in 2017.

Through Queenstown’s council’s subsequent proposed district plan, it managed to get the land rezoned to make way for what was then an 89-lot housing development.

But Environment Court judge Jon Jackson, in October 2019, found council misled the public by not making it clear, in the summary of district plan submissions, that’s what was on the table.

He slammed the council, saying despite ONLs being of national significance, finding the information in the hard copy summary would be ‘‘like searching for a contact lens in a scatter of confetti’’.

Jackson found there was a real risk potential submitters were deprived of the chance to participate in a fair hearing and removing the land from the ONL ‘‘may have been illegal’’.

He suspended the rezoning and ordered council to renotify the landowners’ submissions, but that decision was appealed to the Court of Appeal and the High Court — both failed.

It’s since been renotified, with a hearing scheduled in Queenstown next month.

‘Wanted plan I’d be proud to put my name to’

In the interim, GSL director Andrew Fairfax tells Mountain Scene they’ve started the process anew and have come up with a zoning masterplan ‘‘better than anything proposed for the land before’’.

In all, GSL now proposes up to 44 properties on the land, up to 30 of which are mooted on what they want to be a low-density suburban residential land.

Up to 14 homes, on sections ranging in size from about 2000 to 4000 square metres, are contemplated on ‘‘large lot’’ land in a ‘‘bespoke’’ development.

Fairfax says designated building platforms, with site-specific design controls and ‘‘tight rules’’, will ensure the homes are integrated into the landscape, while a native revegetation plan will be in place before building can start.

Proposed trail links and open spaces will also be required through any future subdivision under the structure plan, he says.

‘‘We’re pleased with our progress, but the process is still unfolding.

‘‘More community input, the hearings process and, ultimately, the decisions of the commissioners will determine the outcome.

‘‘I started living and working the Whakatipu in 1987, and I have lived here full-time for 22 years.

‘‘When the renotification process kicked off again, I wanted a plan I’d be proud to put my name to, and to present to the community.

‘‘I’m very happy with the result.’’

Fairfax reiterates, however, next month’s hearing’s only to assess the appropriate zoning for the land — a resource consent process is ‘‘further down the track’’.

Despite the reduced scale, and proposed screening, Arthurs Point Outstanding Natural Landscape Society chair Tom Dery’s still against rezoning, and any development on the land.

‘‘Once the ONL land’s gone, you’ll never get it back,’’ he says.

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