Consent hearing begins for Mitre 10 Mega store

A resource consent hearing began in Queenstown yesterday for the proposed Mitre 10 Mega store at Frankton - despite appeals on the original application, lodged in November 2011, still waiting to be heard by the Court of Appeal.

Counsel for Crossroads Properties Ltd, Graeme Todd, was also critical of the ''cornerstone'' document in terms of analysis for the protracted Plan Change 19: Frankton Flats. He told independent commissioners Jane Taylor and David Clarke he believed the Commercial Land Needs Assessment (CLNA) was fundamentally flawed and ''grossly exaggerates'' the amount of industrial land required in the resort.

The joint resource consent hearing, which also relates to Foodstuffs South Island Ltd's application to establish a Pak'n Save supermarket on a nearby site, will continue on Monday.

Crossroads Properties Ltd originally applied for land use consent to construct the Mega building, associated car parking and undertake landscaping at Frankton Flats, which was considered on direct referral to the Environment Court in September 2012, heard in conjunction with the Foodstuffs application.

Consents were conditionally approved for both proposals, but appealed by Queenstown Central Ltd and the Queenstown Lakes District Council to the High Court.

In February 2013 Justice Fogarty overturned the consents, based on findings the Environment Court had made several errors of law.

Leave was granted to appeal the decisions to the Court of Appeal. Those appeals are likely to be heard in July.

Yesterday Mr Todd said his clients were not ''abusing the process'' by lodging a second resource consent for fundamentally the same proposal before the appeals had been heard. The crux of the matter was the effect a Mitre 10 Mega store would have on the availability of industrial land.

The cornerstone document in that regard was the CLNA, prepared for the council in 2006, which had never previously been tested.

Crossroads commissioned economics consultant Fraser Colegrave to assess the report, which he found to be ''seriously wanting'' and ''grossly exaggerate'' future demands for industrial land in the resort.

Mr Todd said the ''fundamental error'' was the assessment justified the requirement for more industrial land by relying on a rezoning of land from industrial to ''business'' at Glenda Dr. In eight years there had not been such a proposal, nor had there been any suggestion of it.

Further, industrial land at Frankton Flats had increased since the Mega application was first lodged - from 17.65ha to 25.33ha.

''In light of the grossly exaggerated requirement for land designated for industrial use in Queenstown, the use of 1.8ha of such land for a trade retail store becomes inconsequential and the effect of such can be no more than minor.''

Mr Todd was also critical of the ongoing Plan Change 19, which he described as a ''gold mine for lawyers and planners''.

''It is submitted that the history of PC19 would have to be one of the best - or should I say worst - examples of planning paralysis that this district has ever seen. Indeed, it would appear we are unlikely to see the final form of PC19 for some time to come.

''This plan change has now been going on for seven years ...

''How long are people expected to wait?''

The hearing continues on Monday, when Foodstuffs will present its submissions to the commissioners.