Airports, tourism levels spatial plan concerns

Allowing airports to expand and accepting too much tourism and population growth were the main points criticised by the public in their submissions on the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s draft spatial plan.

Of almost 100 submissions online on Friday, none, apart from that of the Queenstown Airport Corporation and the Tourist Industry Aotearoa, supported expansion of Queenstown and Wanaka Airports.

The spatial plan - entitled Grow Well Whaiora - was drawn up by staff from the council, two government departments and Kai Tahu, to guide development in the district over the next 30 years.

It notes airport development is at a "conceptual level" and further work and community consultation are required.

Frankton resident Terri Anderson submitted community feedback had already "resoundingly said no to airport expansion".

Lilia Andrade, of Frankton, objected to the proposed growth of Queenstown Airport, which did not "enhance any of the four wellbeings the council is legally required to provide for, nor meet any reasonable definition of Growing Well".

Tourism Industry Association representative Bruce Bassett said the plan was "very light" on airports and aviation and noted growth in the number of visitors and residents would require a "corresponding growth in air connectivity".

"It seems to us that greater clarity about the demand levels and dual [Queenstown-Wanaka] airport visions needs to be included in the spatial plan given the vital connectivity role played by air services."

Wanaka resident Nat Craig questioned having the dual airport proposal in the plan at all, given it had been "overwhelmingly" rejected by Upper Clutha residents.

And, Love Wakatipu Inc representative Cath Gilmour criticised the lack of consideration given to the idea of moving Queenstown Airport out of Frankton - "perhaps the saddest part of this spatial plan, however, is the fact that the broader spatial plan team has not used this opportunity to trigger [or] force a broader debate about the best use of the hole in the middle of Frankton," she said.

Trevor Tattersfield took issue with another aspect of the plan - the desire to make public transport, walking and cycling "everyone’s first travel choice".

"It won’t happen.

"It is simply not achievable, and an unrealistic target."

Hearings will be held in Queenstown today and Wanaka tomorrow.

The final plan is due to go to the council in June.

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