High Court hears case for park

The arguments over whether or not permission should have been granted to build an amusement park near Wanaka have once again been aired in court.

The application, first heard in 2011, has been to a consent hearing and the Environment Court and yesterday reached Justice Cameron Mander in the High Court in Invercargill.

Wanaka couple Ross and Judith Young and their son Eamon want to build an amusement park on part of their rural-zoned property near Wanaka airport.

It would feature karts, bumper boats, tenpin bowling and a cafe.

Commissioners appointed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) initially granted consent, but neighbours Ulrich Staufenberg and Jeffrey and Margaret Feint lodged an appeal in the Environment Court, saying the park would adversely affect the rural experience of the area and set a precedent for future commercial development.

The Environment Court overturned the consent in March last year, and the Youngs appealed to the High Court.

A full day of submissions was heard yesterday before Justice Mander reserved his decision.

Only points of law can be considered in the High Court, not the merits of the application.

Opening the case for the Youngs, counsel Jan Caunter said she would ask the court to consider what she believed were five errors in law in the Environment Court decision.

Originally, she had planned to pursue seven, but two points had been deleted.

The Environment Court decision had been ''most unusual'' and ''confusing'', she said.

It was a split decision.

Two commissioners declined the Youngs' consent but Judge Jon Jackson was in favour of granting consent.

The majority view held by the commissioners became the court's decision, she said.

Ms Caunter said she had never heard of an Environment Court decision being split in such a way and in her research had found only one previous example, relating to the Clyde Dam, in the 1980s.

She asked the High Court to consider the weight which should be given to Judge Jackson's view, and the weight which should be given to the view of two commissioners, who even though they were the majority, were not judges.

Karen Feint appeared for the neighbours.

Tony Ray appeared for the QLDC but told the court the council would abide by the court's decision and he was there only to offer advice on the council's district plan.