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The packed agenda saw the council meet for three and a-half hours and approve some of the most significant items of this term, including the amended Te Putahi Ladies Mile master plan, that took into account amendments requested by councillors when the plan was first adopted in October last year, and which was unanimously signed off.
Despite overwhelming opposition from residents of the area, 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, and introduce measures for reduced vehicle use together with improved transport infrastructure from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency along Queenstown’s Ladies Mile.
It was also decided that development would continue to be council-led, rather than handing developers the reins, and the council would request a streamlined planning process from the Minister for the Environment, who would appoint an independent hearings panel to enable an expedited planning process.
The first 40 minutes of the meeting were dedicated to an extended public forum, in which two of the 11 submitters spoke to the Ladies Mile master plan.
On behalf of his clients, the owners of Ladies Mile Pet Lodge, lawyer Graeme Todd raised concern over the proposed key crossing precinct the council ruled must be in place before commercial development of Ladies Mile could occur, and was marked for a section of his clients’ property.
He said through the ruling, the council was effectively imposing a "quasi-designation" on the land and "not taking any financial responsibility".
"The key crossing precinct is clearly for the benefit of the public and yet it will have severe implications in respect to the development potential of my clients’ property," he said.
Queenstown mayoral candidate Jon Mitchell also addressed councillors, urging them to continue to lead the development to "ensure the community has a real opportunity to have input".
The most significant variations to the master plan were the removal of a centralised stormwater management area and the addition of a 2ha community park and two 3000sqm parks.
Council planning and development general manager Tony Avery said the stormwater system was taken off the table due to unresolved funding and management issues, and a lack of support from landowners.
"What we’ve done is remove the centralised stormwater management system, which puts the onus on the developers ... to demonstrate how they’re going to deal with the stormwater on their sites."
Despite the amendments, water management, sustainability and mitigating traffic issues along Queenstown’s infamously congested section of State Highway 6 remained sticking points for councillors, and Mayor Jim Boult noted many aspects of the master plan still needed attention.
"While there’re still lots of things unresolved ... it’s a useful step in the right direction and it’s certainly an acknowledgement council is far better to be holding the steering wheel, so to speak, here, rather than letting ad hoc development take place," he said.