QLDC sticking with status quo

An artist’s impression of the Lakeview-Taumata precinct overlooking central Queenstown. IMAGE:...
An artist’s impression of the Lakeview-Taumata precinct overlooking central Queenstown. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Queenstown's council has voted to continue with business as usual in the governance of the billion-dollar Lakeview-Taumata development, although transparency around decision-making will increase.

Stick to the status quo was the recommended resolution of an independent review into the project’s governance structure, which passed 7-4 at yesterday’s extraordinary meeting of Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Concluding the project’s governance, which is undertaken by a project control group comprised of council staff and developer Ninety-Four Feet, was sound, the review also found it reasonable that the council’s chief executive retained the delegated authority granted in 2017 to make some operational decisions with development partners on behalf of council.

Assembled by consultant Bruce Robertson, the review conditioned the resolution with recommendations.

These were that transparency around decisions be heightened for councillors via quarterly reports on delegated decisions to the council’s audit, finance, and risk committee, as well half-yearly meetings between elected members and the developer.

Cr Niki Gladding, who called for the review at a council meeting in March, expressed concern that council did not fully understand the extent of the power they had delegated to the chief executive to make decisions under the Lakeview Development Agreement (LDA).

"The purpose of this review ... was to go through that agreement, look at all those decisions that could be made under it and report back with options for dividing those power between the CE and the councillors.

"I will point out again we do not, at this point, have visibility as to what all those decisions and actions might be," she said.

Crs Gladding, Esther Whitehead, and Niamh Shaw agreed it was difficult to continue to operate the delegation on a trust model after Ninety-Four Feet’s decision to apply for fast-tracked consent through the Environmental Protection Agency was not communicated effectively to council by the project control group.

"I don’t understand how we can now go ahead and trust that the audit, finance and risk committee is now going to get the full picture," Cr Gladding said.

Mr Robertson responded that his analysis of the LDA concluded the existing delegations were appropriate and it was instead important a monitoring process be introduced to allow councillors to perform their role of overseeing the contract.

"I think there is something important in what you say, which is do you actually understand the nature of delegations?

"That wasn’t my role to explain them ... if you don’t understand them you need to understand them."

While Cr Gladding’s request for an amendment to remove the chief executive’s delegated authority to make any decisions on modifications and make changes to, or terminate, the LDA was lost 7-4, an additional amendment which will see the project control group release meeting minutes to councillors was passed unanimously.

Alongside Ninety-Four Feet, property company Century Capital and Britomart Hospitality Group are developing the Lakeview-Taumata project.

It will take over 10 years to transform 3.3ha of the 10ha former Queenstown Lakeview Holiday Park site, which sits near the Skyline Gondola at the base of Bobs Peak, into more than 500 residential apartments, three hotels and a retail and hospitality space.