Decision reserved on hot pools for reserve

A hearings panel has reserved its decision on a proposal to grant a long-term lease to Ngai Tahu Tourism for its hot pools development on a recreation reserve in Queenstown.

A submissions hearing was convened yesterday by chairman John MacDonald and panel members Penny Clark and Ross McRobie.

Only one submitter, Ken Gousmett, wanted to address the panel, but could not attend yesterday.

His written submission said there was insufficient information provided to be able to support the proposed lease and, in particular, the term of lease, rent and development design in the summary of proposed terms were ``vague and inadequate''.

Mr MacDonald said the panel would consider all written submissions before making its recommendation to the council.

The council received 14 submissions on the proposal - 12 were opposed, 10 of those believing affordable housing was a better use of the new Lakeview recreational reserve.

However, under the Reserves Act 1977, residential activity on reserve land is unlawful.

Two submissions were neutral - the Queenstown and District Historical Society sought assurance trees would be retained and protected, while the Lakes District Museum sought for an independent assessment of all trees on the site and for trees to be retained where possible.

In his report to the panel, strategic projects manager Paul Speedy said the council resolved to set a part of the Lakeview reserve land aside as ``baths'' last October, and consult the public on a proposal to grant Ngai Tahu the long-term lease.

The tourism giant planned an all-season ``high quality, premium hot pools and day spa facility'' to complement the other experiences and activities in the area.

An objective of the council in granting the lease was to encourage a higher contribution to visitor activities in the district and, in particular, the Queenstown town centre.

``The benefit to the council is to capture the best possible financial return from the area (on fair commercial terms) while also providing for a `key anchor activity' at Lakeview helping the overall function and success of the project.''

Mr Speedy's report to the panel recommended granting the lease because the proposal would ensure ``prudent stewardship'' and the efficient and effective use of the council's resources in the interests of the district, including by planning effectively for the future management of the council's assets.


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