Group fundraising for fight

Opponents of a luxury lodge development proposed for Queenstown’s Bob’s Cove are fundraising for a last-ditch battle in the Environment Court.

A 14-strong group of residents have started a fundraising drive to cover the cost of arguing their case against B Property Group’s Waimarino Luxury Lodge development.

The company lodged a resource consent application in 2021 to build 24 luxury villas, each on a freehold title, and communal facilities on a 1.8ha site overlooking the scenic bay about 15 minutes’ drive from central Queenstown.

Despite a Queenstown Lakes District Council planner’s recommendation that consent be granted, independent commissioners rejected the proposal in late 2022, prompting the company to appeal the decision in the Environment Court.

The appeal will be heard in Queenstown over four days from April 29.

Bob’s Cove Punatapu Community Trust member Carolin Friese said the group was unable to reach agreement with the company and council during court-ordered mediation last September.

They were determined to protect the feeling of remoteness people had when they visited the bay, whether they were locals or tourists, Ms Friese said.

"It’s probably the last spot worth fighting for in Queenstown when it comes to untouched lake access."

The residents formed the trust last year to scrutinise potential development and to provide ongoing support for conservation activity such as pest control.

After raising about $30,000 for legal counsel during mediation, the trust needed to raise a further $60,000 — on a Givealittle page called "Save Bob’s Cove" — to engage legal counsel, a landscape architect, resource management planner and ecologist.

B Property Group chief executive Andrew McIntosh said it was unfortunate a minority of the area’s residents were fundraising to "make lawyers wealthy".

"Maybe we haven’t conveyed the story well enough to make them understand.

"It’s a modern Matakauri [Lodge] — it’s a boutique lodge, all single-level. Almost all the site’s vegetated, and it’s all got living roofs."

Mr McIntosh said the experts he had engaged continued to tell him the proposal made a "really good case".