Council votes for plan change

Despite final pleas to reject or scale back a 1400-lot Wanaka development, the Queenstown Lakes District Council has voted to adopt the Northlake private plan change.

However, the possibility was also tabled of the council appealing its own decision on the grounds that Plan Change 45's (PC45) affordable housing component is inadequate.

Several neighbours of the proposed Northlake special zone spoke during the public forum of yesterday's council meeting in Queenstown about the adverse effect the change would have.

''We're pleading for your understanding and empathy for those of us who are directly affected by the decision,'' Jan Paulson said via a live video feed from Wanaka, before requesting reduced housing density or a buffer zone.

Wanaka artist Martin Hill said rather then proceeding with the ''foolhardy'' plan change, the council should look to Cr Ella Lawton, research manager at the Otago Polytechnic Centre of Sustainable Practice, for guidance.

Cr Lawton had been elected in the hope ''a person of her calibre might have some influence on the outcome of such occasions'', Mr Hill said.

That the plan change had been recommended for approval before the district plan review was completed was an ''appalling statement of the intentions of the council and a reflection on the degree on which you're concerned with the opinion of Wanaka residents and senior ecologists''.

Cr Lawton said the PC45 land was the last undeveloped area within Wanaka's inner growth boundary and she did not believe the proposal achieved the best possible urban design for reducing its ecological footprint.

Queenstown Lakes Housing Trust executive officer Julie Scott said Northlake's affordable housing contribution was inconsistent with that of other developers in the district.

She gave the example of Shotover Country, where developers had given the trust 26 titled sections from the 750 sections, compared with Northlake's proposal to sell the trust 20 of its 1400 sections at a cost of $3.2 million.

She urged the council to uphold its own Plan Change 24 - Community Housing (PC24) policies regarding developers' provision of affordable housing.

Cr Cath Gilmour was concerned with the ''substantial decrease in what the community gains'' from PC45.

She said no affordable housing assessment appeared to have been carried out which she understood was a developer's duty under PC24. She suggested the council could appeal against the Northlake plan change on those grounds.

However, Mayor Vanessa van Uden said that would have to be considered at the next council meeting, which would be within the 30-day appeal period.

Ms van Uden and Crs Calum MacLeod, Mel Gazzard, Craig Ferguson and Merv Aoke voted to adopt the commissioners' recommendation PC45 be incorporated into the district plan. Crs Lawton, Gilmour and Lex Perkins voted against the recommendation.

Cr Simon Stamers-Smith had previously left the meeting, and Cr Lyal Cocks was excluded from the discussion as he was one of two commissioners who made the recommendation.

Following the meeting, Cr Gilmour told the Otago Daily Times she had been incorrect about PC24 requiring developers to carry out an assessment of affordable housing needs which meant any potential appeal case was weakened.

lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz