Developments dismay landscape architect

Earthworks being done to develop subdivisions in Wanaka are depriving the landscape of some of...
Earthworks being done to develop subdivisions in Wanaka are depriving the landscape of some of its distinctive natural forms, a top landscape architect says. Photo by Matthew Haggart.
As residential subdivisions in Wanaka continue to expand the town's boundaries, the approach of some developers has saddened the Queenstown Lakes District Council's top landscape consultant.

Dr Marion Read, the chief landscape architect at QLDC's regulatory authority Lake Environmental, says major earthworks associated with some Wanaka developments are destroying parts of the landscape's most distinctive features.

She took aim at work being carried out at West Meadows by Willowridge Developments Ltd, which recently applied for resource consent to develop 55 more sections at the expanding subdivision.

"I nearly weep every time I come to Wanaka and see the earthworks being undertaken at West Meadows. It's destroyed a classic example of undulating glacial moraine face," she told a hearings panel of council commissioners last week.

Dr Read said she wished developers could do more to work with the existing landscape. She labelled the bulldozed flat approach, often favoured by developers to provide level residential sections, the "antithesis of good design".

Willowridge, a property development company headed by Allan Dippie, was granted resource consent last year to carry out earthworks associated with its West Meadows subdivision, which occupies land off Cardrona Valley Rd.

Lakes Environmental processed that application and granted consent for the earthworks proposal.

Willowridge has recently applied for consent to develop 55 sections on a 10ha site of land at West Meadows zoned under a "low density residential" classification.

The company wants to establish sections sized between 700sq m and 1230sq m - a portion of the site is zoned rural residential - over three stages.

The consent application to subdivide the "gently undulating" land, includes a proposal for sections set aside for a recreation reserve and a "utility" reserve.

The application also seeks to carry out earthworks at the site totalling 41,540cu m. About 31,500cu m of fill will need to be brought to the site.

The extra earthworks being sought are "geared towards terracing the individual lots so as to improve aspects, amenity, and build-ability" for the proposed sections, Willowridge's application states.

The subdivision proposal is a "natural addition to the existing residential landscape pattern that extends south of Wanaka on the western side of the Cardrona Valley,"The developer's intention is to create a subdivision that provides a high-quality residential environment.

"In order to do this the lot layout has been designed in accordance with the topography of the existing features," the application states.

Mr Dippie said Dr Read's criticisms were "annoying" and he wondered if she had an aversion to new developments.

"We're doing a great job at West Meadows. We're ensuring that building platforms will not result in houses protruding from the landscape," he said.

The land was zoned for residential purposes by the council for a reason, Mr Dippie said.


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