1400 new houses for Wanaka

Northlake, near Wanaka. Photo by ODT.
Northlake, near Wanaka. Photo by ODT.
Today it is 220ha of dry grass, kanuka, wilding pines and rabbits.

But if the Queenstown Lakes District Council adopts a recommendation on Thursday, the area known as Northlake, near Wanaka, will become the largest single residential development in the town's history.

While firm figures are hard to come by, private Plan Change 45 - Northlake Special Zone (PC45) - could eventually add almost 1400 houses to Wanaka, boost the population by 50% and nearly double the number of already available or consented sections.

In a decision made public yesterday, commissioners recommended the council approve PC45 for land between Aubrey Rd and the Clutha River, at present zoned rural general and rural residential.

The plan change would enable a range of residential lot sizes, from medium to low density and larger residential lots, plus a neighbourhood commercial component, child care centre, pool and playing fields.

The developers claim PC45 will promote housing affordability, with 20 serviced residential sections available at no more than $160,000, subject to an option in favour of the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust.

The zone will also provide for, potentially, another 235 medium-density housing lots targeted at the affordable end of the market range.

John Edmonds, of John Edmonds and Associates Ltd which prepared the plan change application, said the landowners had been guided by the 2007 Wanaka Structure Plan and took into account the community's long-term intentions for the area, as well as future growth, education and transportation needs.

The commissioners said while the land subject to PC45 was not needed for residential development at this time, there were advantages in proceeding with it.

The new zone would provide choice in residential location.

The rate at which the land was developed would depend on the landowners' assessment of market conditions and it was not appropriate to ''ration'' the supply of land.

It would achieve certainty about the ultimate use of the land, ensure development occurred in a co-ordinated and integrated manner in accordance with the Wanaka Structure Plan and much of the land subject to PC45 was screened from nearby areas.

There were no issues surrounding impacts on social infrastructure and the wider community that would justify a rejection of PC45, the commissioners said.

They did not follow council planner Vicki Jones' recommendation to slash the maximum number of dwellings from the proposed 1600 to 710 and to delay the first stage of development - about 440 sites - until 2019, with the remainder staged over 10-15 years.

They did make several amendments to PC45, effectively reducing the maximum number of dwellings to about 1380.

Yesterday, some of the many opposing submitters living near the PC45 land were shocked and disappointed by the recommendation.

Neil Webster, of Anderson Rd, said he and a group of residents spent $12,000-$15,000 on lawyers fighting the plan change ''but everything we put forward has been thrown out''.

He objected mainly to the noise and extra traffic and considered the reduction in the number of lots nothing more than a ''bit of a slap in the face with a wet fish'' for the developers, making little difference to the impact of the proposal.

PC45 would be ''a disaster'' for Wanaka, which did not have the infrastructure to cope with the increased population.

He expected Anderson Rd would become clogged with cars, and said he would consider selling up and finding a quieter place to live.

Aubrey Rd residents Bruce and Jan Paulson and Barry South said they had bought their properties because of the rural aspect.

''We bought here to have a section on the edge of town but it's no longer the edge,'' Mr Paulson said.

''It's just the person with the most money that gets what they want and there's obviously big money behind this.''

Mr South said the community's input into the Wanaka Structure Plan appeared to have been ignored.

Noelene Pullar, also an Aubrey Rd property owner, said Wanaka was a place of ''outstanding scenic beauty'' which needed to be protected, particularly the views from the Mt Iron walking track which overlooked the PC45 land.

''When you look across ... towards the land and mountains you'll have a sea of iron roofs in the foreground,'' Mrs Pullar said.

Kevin King, who started Mitre 10 in Wanaka and lives on the opposite side of town from Northlake, supported the plan change - although not its commercial element - because it provided for Wanaka to grow in an orderly fashion.

''I would have thought it was a natural progression for the town in that area.''

He believed PC45 followed on from the 2020 planning process, in 2002, where planners set town boundaries at the three rivers and ''clearly then recommended'' no more large residential blocks, because Wanaka would run out of room.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz