Resort purpose queried

Evidence presented at the Parkins Bay golf resort Environment Court hearing in Wanaka this week and last has focused on the appellants' suspicions the application is not all it seems.

The applicants, the McRae family of Glendhu Station, argue the proposal is a tourism and recreational development of regional importance, stemming from family succession planning, their passion for golf, a desire to provide for the well-being of the wider Wanaka community, and their wish to preserve the amenities of the Glendhu and Parkins Bay areas.

Those opposed say it is not so simple.

Upper Clutha Environmental Society advocate Tony Borick has described the application as a "wolf in sheep's clothing".

He says it is not primarily a tourist and recreational development but a residential development with a golf course as a "fig leaf".

Course designer John Darby, of Arrowtown, has told the Parkins Bay hearing "what you see is what you get", but lawyer Russell Ibbotson, for appellant Dennis Thorn, yesterday questioned whether the court could rely on Mr Darby's assurances there would be no future subdivision.

The appellants' concerns the applicant could apply for further development were made clear yesterday when Mr Ibbotson presented evidence that another golf development associated with Mr Darby, Jacks Point, recently applied for an additional residential development.

Jacks Point had also been promoted for consent on the basis it was fully self-contained and the court needed to know whether cumulative development was likely in the future, Mr Ibbotson said.

The applicants' lawyer Mark Christensen has been keen for the court to focus on more than just landscape issues but landscape evidence has nevertheless occupied a large bulk of the court's time.

Glendhu Station is in the rural general zone and the district plan requires the court to determine whether the development site is in outstanding natural landscape (ONL) or visual amenity landscape (VAL), before going on to apply the relevant development rules.

Evidence from six landscape architects has been presented and conflicting opinions have emerged as to whether it is VAL, ONL, or VAL "embedded" within a wider ONL.

Some landscape architect witnesses have indicated they have difficulties with the methodology and assessments of Dr Mike Steven, who is expected to give evidence for the Queenstown Lakes District Council today that the site is visual amenity landscape.

Mr Ibbotson said yesterday if the court was to accept Dr Steven's evidence, it would erode all confidence in the methodology used by QLDC experts in the past two decades.

If Dr Steven's methods were adopted, few if any areas in the district would be ONL.

The Cardrona Valley, Alpha Burn Station, Roys Peninsula and the Sharpridge lands would also not fall within ONL, Mr Ibbotson said.


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