Government agrees to fast-track Ladies Mile development

A huge Queenstown development that could result in more than 2000 new houses built at Ladies Mile will be fast-tracked, the Government has confirmed.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council had sought permission from Environment Minister David Parker for an expedited planning process to speed up rezoning for the Te Putahi Ladies Mile Masterplan.

The master plan seeks to proactively direct the development of 2400 high or medium-density homes, a town centre, two schools and a sports/community hub.

It also introduces measures for reduced vehicle use, together with improved transport infrastructure from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency along the notoriously congested stretch of road into Queenstown.

The fast-tracked process has now been approved.

In a letter to council chief executive Mike Theelen, Mr Parker confirmed he had approved a Streamlined Planning Process (SPP) to rezone about 120ha of Ladies Mile from rural and rural lifestyle zoning to allow for integrated urban development.

The council had been able to prove that the development was urgent as a matter of public policy, and that it was required to meet a significant community need, he wrote.

The decision followed a consultation process earlier this year.

The process will officially start once it has been gazetted by the minister in mid-April.

For developers Sanderson Group, the decision was welcome news.

The group has a 6.3ha landholding in the area that will be developed into the Ladies Mile town centre.

Sanderson Group chief executive Jared Baronian said the decision was significant as it provided assurance that rezoning would occur within about a year.

That meant a further 2000-3000 homes would become available within six to 10 years.

"This is critical to the region, its housing crisis, and our nation given Queenstown’s economic significance to New Zealand as its key tourism drawcard," he said.

"The process we work through in our business can be frustratingly slow and fraught with complication. However, it is very rewarding when we ultimately create incredible amenity, community outcomes, and developments which we are all proud of."

He praised council staff for their work on the master plan, and also noted current and former councillors who "looked beyond nimbyism, came together to work through their differences, and took on their responsibilities to properly consider the long-term view".

The decision marks the latest development in a years-long bid to determine the best use of the prime stretch of land along the main arterial route into Queenstown, between Lake Hayes and the Shotover River.