Decision 'relatively risk-free'

Adam Feeley.
Adam Feeley.
Tomorrow's decision by Queenstown Lakes district councillors on a proposed convention centre at Lakeview will not be ''an irreversible commitment'', chief executive Adam Feeley says.

The council will be asked at its full meeting tomorrow to approve the development at the central Queenstown site, subject to conditions.

The conditions include securing capital funding in addition to $32.5 million the council could contribute.

Mr Feeley said the recommendation was ''still a relatively risk-free decision''.

''We've got councillors ... with [different] perspectives but, at the end of the day, all of the councillors know they have to decide in the best interests of the district as a whole.

''I just hope and expect ... they have given pretty careful consideration to what has been over 500 pages of information on this.''

Councillors spoken to by the ODT yesterday said they received robust information and had open minds ahead of the meeting.

As part of the recommendation, the council would also be asked to direct officers to report by July 30 with:

• A draft plan change for a Lakeview sub-zone.

• A proposed master plan for the site.

• Alternative design options for staged or reduced construction costs.

By September 30, officers would be directed to report with alternative rating options for a reduced contribution by ratepayers.

As part of the report on the agenda item, prepared by transition manager Paul Speedy, a visitor levy was mooted to manage any shortfall.

Yesterday, Mr Feeley said that was speculative and just one of several options.

''We can speculate about how it might be applied ... but it's really too early to say that. All we can say is it's something that's been talked about for some time now.''

He said a visitor levy seemed to be a realistic possibility.

''The indication from the Government is 'talk to us after the election'.''

Other options open to the council to fund the shortfall were to find alternative sources of capital or establish the centre in stages and/or reduce the cost of construction by an amount proportionate with any Government reduction in contribution.

Remarkables Park Ltd developer Alastair Porter confirmed he lodged a consent application yesterday afternoon for his conference centre, proposed for land at Frankton.

The application said consent was required for a single-storey building and plaza to provide education and commercial activities, community events and entertainment.

The proposal comprised 2700sq m in stage one, and would total 3900sq m after stage two.

RPL said the application could be processed on a non-notified basis.

The company considered the effects of the proposal would be less than minor. The proposal met the relevant objectives and policies for the Remarkables Park Zone and its structure plan.

Mr Feeley said while it was desirable for the councillors to make as an ''informed decision as possible, to date all we've seen from Alastair is a simple sketch drawing and a two-page summary and floor plan''.

''We have made three requests to see if he's willing to provide council with more information. He's declined that. I guess that's his decision.

''For six months now we have been saying if you would like to help the council make a more informed decision, we would be grateful to receive whatever documentation you have got ... but no. Those four pages are all we've seen.''

Mr Feeley said three independent sources had reviewed the RPL proposal, including a convention centre architect and a conference organiser.

Despite there being ''not a lot to review'', advice and information received would be presented to the council tomorrow.

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