Application for housing to maintain 'viability'

An application to build visitor accommodation at Mt Dewar Station will be covered in Queenstown during a two-day hearing beginning on August 17.

Mt Field Ltd is seeking resource consent to build the facility to house up to 20 people, and identify 14 allotments and 12 residential building platforms.

It attracted 14 submissions - all but one in opposition.

The station covers more than 1768ha between Coronet Peak and Skippers Canyon, much of which is classified Outstanding Natural Landscape.

The application said the project would allow the station to diversify and achieve "ongoing viability". The station went through a tenure review about 14 years ago and in the past had been farmed in conjunction with Ben Lomond Station, which accounted for the lack of farming infrastructure such as a homestead.

For Mt Dewar Station to function solely as a meat and/or wool-producing operation, studies showed average annual return on capital over many years of 1%-2% was required, the application said. A Lincoln University report had stated many high-country farmers were in "financial difficulty after years of low income, stable working costs and rising debt-servicing costs".

"The report concludes that diversification is required."

The proposed 14 residential lots ranged from 1370sq m to 2460sq m, with the proposed visitor accommodation activities on an 18,779sq m site.

Lot owners would acquire full property rights, securing a "right to roam" over the balance of Mt Dewar Station. In return, each would be covenanted to pay an annual fee to the Mt Dewar Station land management regime, with wilding pine control a "major priority".

The applicant would pay to form a public walking track and mountain biking trail next to Skippers Peak Rd, from Arthurs Point to the base of the Zoot Trail (opposite Dan O'Connells bush).

Among the submitters was the Greenslade family, past owners of Mt Dewar Station.

Elizabeth Greenslade said the family "strongly object to the concept and the reasoning of the application". Her submission said the application contravened the Resource Management Act 1991; and Mt Dewar was zoned an Outstanding Natural Landscape "and therefore must be inviolable and sacrosanct".

The application was not sympathetic to the natural environment; would downgrade the physical appearance of the "iconic, scenic landscape" and would destroy the natural setting and scenic vistas.

Mrs Greenslade said Mt Field Ltd had "moved the goalposts" after consent was granted for one house to "lock off the block and clear wilding pines".

"The applicant's track record of stewardship is lacking and dismal with a chronic result.

"Wilding pine programme of eradication should not be a fresh bargaining tool, difficult to be enforced by 14 owners.

"Financial challenges in this Wakatipu area are historically documented, as are cyclic returns of wool and produce. Rural agribusinesses generally adapt, revise, look for stock or market improvements.

"Mt Field is a property development company, not an agribusiness. The property is leased out to another party [and] Mt Field compromised their productivity when it subdivided from the fertile Coronet Peak flatland. There is no justification for allowing subdivision based on farming's fluctuating profitability."

Mt Field Ltd directors are David and Elspeth Broomfield, of Queenstown.

The hearing is before commissioners Trevor Shiels and Lyal Cocks.



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