Community, parish centre plan abandoned

An artist’s impression of the ‘‘Olive Leaf’’ building, obscured by trees, next to St Patrick’s...
An artist’s impression of the ‘‘Olive Leaf’’ building, obscured by trees, next to St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Arrowtown. PHOTO: ODT FILES
After eight years of debate and a court appeal, a contentious plan to build a parish and community centre next to Arrowtown’s St Patrick’s Catholic Church has been abandoned.

Olive Leaf Centre Trust chairman Colin Bellett said it would not appeal last month’s Environment Court ruling, which rejected the trust’s appeal of a 2020 planning commissioners’ decision to turn down resource consent for the building.

The trust had also ruled out making a revised consent application after considering legal advice, Mr Bellett said.

It had come to the conclusion that virtually "nothing at all" could be built on the site, regardless of whether the design was contemporary or traditional.

With its "Olive Leaf" name derived from a floating, leaf-shaped roof, the Fred van Brandenburg design for the Hertford St site has divided opinion in Arrowtown since it was first unveiled in 2015.

After the trust’s resource consent application was publicly notified in 2018, it attracted 368 submissions, with 218 in support and 150 opposed.

However, the NoLeaf Incorporated Society was formed to oppose the project, and received support from community organisations such as the Arrowtown Village Association, the Arrowtown Promotion and Business Association, the Queenstown Historical Society, and Lakes District Museum.

In 2020, independent planning commissioners declined consent, prompting the trust to appeal the decision in the Environment Court.

After a week-long hearing in May, Judge Prudence Steven and commissioner Kathryn Edmonds released the decision on October 30.

NoLeaf chairwoman Susan Rowley said its supporters felt "deep relief" the matter was not going to the High Court.

Ms Rowley, also a St Patrick’s parishioner, said the parish now had an opportunity for a "genuine consultative process" on how to redevelop the existing building beside the church.