A prominent Queenstown couple have had their plans for three rural living lots on their Speargrass Flat farm dashed by council planning commissioners.

Former All Black Duncan Robertson and former hotelier and tourism leader Jan Hunt had promised not to develop the 66.2-hectare balance — or 98.4% — of their property, on the corner or Speargrass Flat and Hunter Rds, apart from existing residential buildings.

At the planning hearing late last year, they said their property, which has hosted equestrian activity since 1986, wasn’t profitable for farming.

Their consultants also explained how the residential building platforms would be screened by mounds and extensive planting.

The council, however, had recommended the consent be refused on the grounds the property’s zoned ‘Whakatipu Basin rural amenity’.

The commissioners say council’s consultant landscape architect, Helen Mellsop, ‘‘advised that the integrity of the rural ‘breathing space’ that Speargrass Flat provided would be compromised due to the reduction in the extent and aesthetic values of views available from Speargrass Flat Rd across open rural land to the northern hill slopes and distant mountains’’.

Concerns were also raised about houses on the northern side of Speargrass Flat Rd creating a precedent, and that two of the proposed three were too close to the road.

One of the commissioners’ conclusions is ‘‘that the adverse effects on the environment, even when considered against the mitigation measures proposed at the hearing, and in reply submissions, are found to be more than minor’’.

‘‘These adverse effects being primarily based on the adverse landscape character and visual amenity effects of the proposal.’’

Neither Hunt nor Robertson could be contacted for comment this week.

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