Most submissions back extended holiday parks lease

The Queenstown Lakes District Council will consider whether to accommodate its holiday park managers for a longer stay at a hearing this week.

A proposal to grant private camp operator Council Camps Revitalised Ltd (CCR) minimum 15-year leases over Wanaka Lake View, Glendhu Bay Lakeside, Queenstown Lake View and Arrowtown Born of Gold holiday parks has attracted mostly supporting submissions.

CCR, comprised of experienced holiday park operators Erna and Antonius Spijkerbosch, of Queenstown, and Agerta Hofsteenge and Rudolf Sanders, of Wanaka, was awarded a three-year management contract by the council in November which included an option to negotiate a long-term lease.

Mr Sanders said at the time the company directors had ''great plans'' for developing the camping grounds but making any major capital investment under the three-year contract would be too risky.

In April, the council resolved to proceed with long-term lease negotiations to ''improve the return to the ratepayers and reduce potential future liabilities'' and to consult publicly on the proposal.

The long-term lease period would be 15 years or longer, during which time CCR could lease the land and buildings in return for an annual rental fee.

It is also proposed the council sell the parks' business component, including equipment and chattels, to the operator.

Eight of the 10 submissions received by the council supported the proposal, although some advised caution.

Nigel Sadlier said effective long-term management of the camping grounds would require the ability to control or restrict non-guest access and the council should therefore carefully consider the reserve status of the land in relation to the safety and security of paying guests.

Wanaka couple Stuart and Coleen Landsborough supported long-term leases provided the council could protect the standard of the camps' facilities.

''These campgrounds should not operate as anything else but campgrounds and should be kept as 'Kiwi Park' and/or `Holiday Park' standard to keep them as affordable as possible, especially for New Zealanders on holiday.''

Jacksons Fruit Ltd, owner of the freehold of the competing Wanaka Top 10 Holiday Park, gave support to the proposal, subject to strict lease terms which would ensure ''full transparency applies and that ratepayers can not be unfairly disadvantaged in the future''.

CCR's current lease had been ''relatively short'' and the council should consider whether it was too soon to enter into a long-term contract, as well as the appropriateness of having all parks under one operator, Jacksons Fruit director Russell Ibbotson said.

Diana Cocks, of Wanaka, said the parks in Queenstown and Wanaka had been ''allowed to languish'', as insufficient council funds had been spent on improvements.

In less than a year, CCR had proved it was capable of revitalising the parks, but the current short-term arrangement did not encourage development of the businesses to their full potential.

A lease of at least 25 years should apply, Mrs Cocks said.

Lesley Anderson believed a long-term lease would benefit only the parks' operator, not ratepayers, particularly at the Glendhu Bay camp where the reserve extended to the lake edge.

''What of the Queen's Chain and the rights of ratepayers to be allowed to access the lake shore? ... Although there is a small area for day visitors at Glendhu Bay, the nicest part of the bay is taken over by the campground. And are day visitors allowed there? I have heard otherwise.''

Graham Dickson, of Wanaka, said the proposal was contrary to the purpose of the Reserves Act, the purpose of which was to provide recreational opportunities, not income for the council.

He, too, had concerns about the public losing access rights to reserves where the parks were located.

A hearing on the camping ground lease proposal will take place in Wanaka this Thursday.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz