Debate over the significance of a Wanaka walking track and
the visual experience of its users dominated a resource
consent hearing yesterday.
The hearing, in Wanaka, was for Kate and Peter Martin's
resource consent application to build a 536sq m dwelling and
accessory buildings, with associated earthworks and
landscaping, on rural general-zoned land they own at Little
Mt Iron, in landscape classified as an Outstanding Natural
None of the four opposing submitters raised visual, landscape
or amenity issues regarding the proposal. Rather, three
neighbours had concerns about water supply, engineering
matters and firefighting provisions, while the Otago Regional
Council's submission related to the site's earthquake
Queenstown Lakes District Council reporting planner Richard
Kemp recommended consent be declined, primarily because of
the proposed dwelling's visibility from parts of a public
walking track, known as the Hidden Hills track, on
neighbouring conservation land.
''The site is highly sensitive and when viewed from the
perspective of a recreational user of the track, an
unacceptable degradation of the landscape and visual amenity
will occur,'' Mr Kemp wrote.
The applicant's lawyer, Russell Ibbotson, criticised the
report's ''single and repetitive focus'' on the Hidden Hills
track, despite Mr Kemp's assessment that the dwelling's
adverse landscape and visual effects would be minor when
viewed from the wider environment and neighbouring
Mr Ibbotson said existing and future residential development
in the immediate area - Hidden Hills and Northlake
subdivisions - would have a ''far greater effect ... on the
expectation and experience of the track walker''.
The track was merely a link between the Hidden Hills
subdivision and the Mt Iron walking track, and ''far from the
romantic picture Mr Kemp attempts to convey'', Mr Ibbotson
The track was not identified in a Department of Conservation
outdoor pursuits brochure for Wanaka and no data was
available on its usage.
However, Mr Kemp noted while Doc had made no submission on
the proposal, nor had it provided written approval, so the
value it placed on the track was not known. He said the track
was reasonably well-serviced, with turnstiles and signage.
The applicant's planning consultant, Carey Vivian, said the
view of the district's planners that seeing a building from a
trail would result in an adverse experience for the
recreational user was ''absolutely incorrect''.
In his experience as a long-serving trustee of the Queenstown
Trails Trust, a person's appreciation of a trail was more
about the journey. Therefore, the proposed dwelling with its
sensitive architectural design would become a feature of the
track user's journey.
However, QLDC principal landscape architect Marion Read said
Queenstown and Wanaka offered the potential for people to
have a ''near-wilderness experience'' close to the two
townships, where they could feel as if they were leaving
residential areas behind.
Dr Read also pointed out while discussion had been
''myopically focused'' on the loss of visual amenity from the
Hidden Hills track, it was likely there would also be adverse
effects on other public areas within the neighbouring
Mr Kemp said the applicant's volunteered covenant restricting
future development, and an ecological and pest management
strategy, would have minor positive effects, not equal to the
high adverse visual effects on the recreational amenity of
the public and the landscape values of the ONF.
Mr Vivian disagreed, and said the ecological restoration plan
was a ''significant positive'' for the environment.
In focusing on the visibility of the dwelling from one trail
Mr Kemp had failed to adequately consider the long-term
management of the property.
Fire risk on the kanuka-clad slopes of the Mt Iron and Little
Mt Iron subdivisions was discussed in detail throughout the
Commissioners Jane Taylor and Leigh Overton adjourned the
meeting and reserved their decision.