Council's bid to fast-track rules denied

A legal bid to fast-track rules encouraging more intensive housing development in Queenstown has been denied.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council applied to the Environment Court last year to give immediate legal effect to some new rules in its proposed district plan.

If successful, the move would have enabled more housing in areas proposed for low-density residential zoning.

Council planning and development general manager Tony Avery said the application had been ‘‘worth pursuing'' as an attempt to tackle the district's housing shortage.

In his ruling, Judge Jon Jackson said the application was unusual in seeking to free up existing restrictions rather than impose new constraints on development, which was when ‘‘immediate legal effect'' requests were normally used.

The potential benefit of enabling more housing was outweighed by ‘‘potentially serious prejudice to some landowners who might lose the mutual benefit of space around them'', Judge Jackson said.

However, he acknowledged the council was making a ‘‘determined effort to keep the quantity of relatively affordable houses supplied in the district as minimally constrained as possible, in a district whose landscapes and features are its main drawcard''.

The ruling means the proposed rules will be considered as part of the council's district plan review.

The council will begin hearings next week to consider submissions on the proposed district plan. They are expected to take most of this year, with full implementation of the plan likely to take several years.

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