A council planner's view a proposed 1600-lot Wanaka subdivision should have its number of dwellings more than halved has been backed by the Upper Clutha Environmental Society.
Speaking on day three of a public hearing in Wanaka yesterday, the society's president, Julian Haworth, said development should be completely avoided in certain areas of proposed private plan change 45: Northlake special zone (PC45), as it would significantly degrade the landscape.
Mr Haworth said much of the subdivision, between Aubrey Rd and the Clutha River, would be sited in less elevated and sensitive landscape locations better able to absorb development, which the society was not opposed to.
However, PC45 also ''unjustifiably promotes highly visible residential development sprawling across elevated areas of visual amenity landscape'', he said.
Development resulting from the plan change would be visible from a number of well-frequented public places, including State Highway 6 near the Dublin Bay turn-off, a reserve and walking track on the north side of the Clutha River, the Stephensons Arm area of Lake Wanaka and Mt Iron.
Mr Haworth said amendments made by the applicant to the PC45 structure plan - in particular an extension of the building restriction area (BRA) - were an improvement on the original version, but the plan was still ''too bitsy'' and ''technical''.
In terms of the size and location of the BRA, he preferred the ''very clean'' approach taken by Queenstown Lakes District Council consultant planner Vicki Jones, who has recommended a maximum 710 dwellings, to be staged over 10 to 15 years from 2019, rather than the 1600 dwellings proposed.
''Where so many conditions are necessary to control effects, one wonders should development be going in these places at all?'' Mr Haworth said.
''I think the level of detail you need to go to for these sort of things is what's been recommended by the planner's report.''
Mr Haworth was ''unconvinced'' by earlier criticisms from the applicant's lawyer, Warwick Goldsmith, of the planning report's residential housing supply and demand assumptions.
''It is clear from the 2012 dwelling capacity model that existing dwelling capacity is sufficient to easily cope with residential demand for people who want to live in Wanaka for many years to come,'' Mr Haworth said.
''Similarly, staging of the geographically more limited proposal is necessary for the proposal to be consistent with sustainable management and the purposes of the RMA.''
Independent commissioners David Whitney and Lyal Cocks will hear from further submitters today.