Former Queenstown Airport chief Steve Sanderson denies he
agreed with Remarkables Park Ltd co-director Alastair Porter
to the building of large-format retail premises on disputed
land in Frankton, the Environment Court heard this week.
Mr Sanderson, chief executive of Wellington International
Airport since February 2012, returned for cross-examination
on the discussions and agreements between neighbours
Queenstown Airport Corporation and Remarkables Park before
the corporation drafted a notice of requirement in 2008.
Mr Sanderson said he was informed in May 2008 about
Remarkables Park's private plan change 34, which provided for
large format retailers in the area known as Lot 6.
The corporation shared legal advice with its major
shareholder, the Queenstown Lakes District Council, and was
satisfied a covenant prohibited such development on the
Remarkables Park counsel Royden Somerville QC, of Dunedin,
asked when the corporation seriously considered using Lot 6.
He referred Mr Sanderson to a paragraph in the Queenstown
Airport master plan 2023 update of July 2008, which said 18ha
was available to the north of general aviation and
flightseeing parking and hangar reserves for a
general-aviation-use business and/or industrial park.
''Further commercial opportunities exist in the area south
and west of the main terminal, fronting on to the western
access road,'' the airport update said.
''This area has a large amount of roadside frontage and is
therefore considered prime land for commercial development.''
Thursday was the fourth day this week of Judge Jane Borthwick
and two commissioners hearing the issues of ''legitimate
expectation'' and fairness between the airport and
Remarkables Park over the use of Lot 6, located south of the
Also at issue is the corporation's bid to alter its existing
aerodrome designation to include the section and use it for
general aviation, helicopter and corporate jet operations.
Lot 6 owner Remarkables Park maintains land the airport
gained in an exchange to the north of the runway is suitable
for the air park instead and raised the ''scarcity of
However, Mr Sanderson told the court there were ''numerous
operational constraints'' to the north which made Lot 6 the
Most operators backed the airport's preference because they
were concerned about the predominant southern wind,
helicopters struggling with approaches, fixed-wing aircraft
struggling with taxiways and the wash from jet airliners
landing and taking off, if they were based to the north.
Air New Zealand counsel James Gardner-Hopkins, of Wellington,
told the hearing the airport was growing and it was important
services were not constrained by the existing configuration.
The neutral airline urged the court to reach a decision ''to
minimise further delays and uncertainty'', he said.
Judge Borthwick reminded counsels the court did not stand in
the way of the parties mediating an outcome, although she
described their positions as ''poles apart''.
Dr Somerville and airport counsel Matthew Casey QC, of
Auckland, said their clients were not opposed to mediation,
but Mr Casey said the corporation ''has tried for years to
sit around the table to get a resolution''.
The judge said the court could see the ''permutations'' of
either confirming, or cancelling the airport's notice of
requirement, or examining how much Lot 6 land was needed by
Splitting corporate jet services from general aviation and
helicopter services and placing jet operations only on the
southern section, plus the idea of the corporation buying Lot
6 from Remarkables Park were voiced.
The hearing concluded on Thursday and the decision will be
issued by the judge ''in due course''.
Plan change 19 to rezone the 69ha of greenfield Frankton
Flats for a mix of uses took another step towards resolution
yesterday with the release of the second interim decision by
the Environment Court.
Judge Borthwick approved the resource management issues,
objectives and policies for the plan change, except for
activity areas ''A'' and ''E2'' and the outline development
plans, which will follow in a later decision.