Proposed building height increases queried

Controversial building height increases proposed for a central Queenstown block are being questioned by a nearby landowner.

Queenstown's lumbering proposed district plan hearings cover business zones this week, including building heights, CBD entertainment noise and a proposed extension to Queenstown Airport's special zone.

Council planning consultant Vicki Jones has suggested building heights of up to 14m above the roof of the Man St car park should be allowed - 3m higher than allowed now.

She has also suggested buildings be separated by 12m- and 16m-long open plazas so they do not dominate what is a highly visible site.

John Thompson owns about 3900sq m of land in central Queenstown, bordered by Man and Brecon Sts, opposite the Sofitel hotel. He called the proposed height limit change quite significant and questioned the process used by the council to increase height limits.

In evidence from planning lawyer Warwick Goldsmith, filed before this week's hearing, Mr Thompson said the process was ``questionable and may present a vires issue''.

The justification for the proposed change is a submission from Aaron Cowie, which Mr Thompson said had asked for building heights to be increased and had little ``particularity''.

``If that is correct in terms of jurisdiction, then it must follow that the submission could provide jurisdiction to increase height limits anywhere in the district by an unspecified amount.''

He added: ``It is questionable whether Mr Cowie's submission could be relied upon as fairly and reasonably putting submitters `on notice' of this potential change to increase height.''

The Man St car park, owned by Man Street Properties, has been engineered to accommodate further development on its roof.

The company's consultant planner, Tim Williams, opposed the council fixing ``view shafts'', which, he said, were best considered during a development scheme.

Remarkables Park Ltd, which has often sparred with Queenstown Airport Corp over land, not least over what is known as Lot 6, submitted against a proposed extension to the airport mixed-use zone.

The company, which owns land south of the main runway adjoining the proposed extension, opposed what it called the airport's ``wish list'' for visitor accommodation in the zone.

RPL lawyer John Young said: ``There is no reasonable basis to assume that users of an airport hotel will be more tolerant of noise or will be transiting tourists.''

Council planner Rebecca Holden agreed with an acoustic engineer's assessment that noise at an airport hotel could be mitigated by sound insulation and minimum standards, such as limiting the length of stay.

The proposed district plan suggests increased noise limits in Queenstown's town centre entertainment precinct.

The business-related hearings are being chaired by Denis Nugent, sitting with commissioners Paul Rogers and Ella Lawton. They continue in Queenstown until Thursday and then in Wanaka next Monday and Tuesday.


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