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The Queenstown Lakes District Council last week approved a new agreement for the company for a lease and easements of a 8532sq m site on Brecon St under the Reserves Act 1977.
The land is council-owned recreation reserve on which Skyline plans to build its car park, with the capacity for at least 350 vehicles.
However, one condition in the proposed new lease caused some concern around the council table, Mayor Jim Boult suggesting a ‘‘rider’’ be added for clarification.
Under ‘‘Permitted Use’’, the proposed agreement stated the car parking ‘‘must cater exclusively for staff and visitors to the business conducted under the Existing SEL Gondola Lease’’.
In public forum, Ziptrek Ecotours executive director Trent Yeo said if Skyline staff and customers had exclusive use of the car park, it would set a precedent and be to the detriment of other reserve users, including mountain bikers, parapenters, bungy jumpers and Ziptrek clients.
Cr Alexa Forbes shared his concerns.
‘‘It allows Skyline to decide exactly how those car parks are used and who uses them,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s on public reserve land.
‘‘If somebody wants to walk up that hill, they should be able to park there if they choose to.
‘‘We have to be very clear that car park is ... for the use of anyone who wants to access that reserve.’’
Council chief executive Mike Theelen said the intention was for it to be available to ‘‘users of the Skyline business, all gondola users’’, which extended to mountain bikers, Ziptrek clients and parapenters.
‘‘It’s everybody that goes up [the gondola], by and large.’’
Mr Boult suggested the addition of a rider making it clear the car park had to cater to users of all activities on the reserve.
Meanwhile, Cr Penny Clark said she was ‘‘not happy’’ about the rent Skyline was being charged, at $72,000 per annum. On the basis of at least 350 car parks, it worked out at $4 per park per week.
‘‘If they’re going to charge $20 to $30 for a space, I’m not happy with the rate we’re charging.’’
However, Mr Theelen said that was only an ‘‘interim step’’.
‘‘We know the car park is going to take some time to be built ... [ultimately] this facility will be rolled into the principal Skyline lease [and] we’ll negotiate with them about what the rate they will ultimately pay [will be].’’
With regard to Mr Yeo’s concern about precedent-setting, Mr Theelen said there were already multiple private users on the reserve and the council was prepared to engage with Skyline over the car park because ‘‘in a practical sense’’ it supported the company’s operation on Bobs Peak.
‘‘It would be quite a different set of questions if council was generally making reserve land available for car parking.
‘‘In principle, the council and the Crown should not be tying reserve land into car parking [but] there was a logical nexus between the need for the land and the location of the car park to support that usage [for Skyline].’’
Skyline has applied for a direct referral to the Environment Court for the proposed car park, one of the key aspects of its $100 million-plus redevelopment of its upper and lower terminals and gondola system, which was directly referred to the court in 2016.
An interim decision on the latter was issued in August last year.
Subject to the latest direct referral application being approved, the Environment Court has indicated it could hear the new application in June, after which a final decision could be issued on both matters.
Subject to consents, the project would take about four years to complete.