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The five-year-plus debate on the best way to guide urban development of the semi-rural land along the main arterial route into Queenstown, between Lake Hayes and the Shotover River, continued at yesterday’s meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council.
Elected members were asked to consider public feedback on the draft master plan, which the council has been working on for 16 months, and agree on the next step for its implementation.
More than 500 submissions were received on the draft from informal consultation in May, and 86% of respondents indicated they did not support it.
During the meeting’s public forum, several residents of subdivisions beside Ladies Mile said more houses in the area would bring traffic on the road to a standstill, and called on the council to halt any more development.
However, Sanderson Group chairman Fraser Sanderson, whose companies are building a retirement village and private hospital in the area, and are seeking consent for two residential subdivisions, urged councillors to support the master plan.
It would take seven to 10 years to consent and build 2000-plus homes in the area, Mr Sanderson said.
"In that time, we will surely resolve traffic."
He warned councillors that landowners would push ahead with development through private plan changes if they failed to support the master plan.
Planning and development general manager Tony Avery said traffic congestion was the main point of contention arising from the community feedback.
However, the council could "not just say no" to developers, and the master plan was the "right thing to do for future generations".
Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod said the council was between the "proverbial rock and a hard place", and supporting the master plan would be as unpopular a decision as it was likely to make.
However, it was not just the right thing to do, but "essential".
Cr Glyn Lewers urged his colleagues to back the master plan, saying that without more housing, the young professionals "who are the future of this town" could never afford to own a home there.
"All we’re doing is kicking them out of this town."
Mayor Jim Boult said more time was needed to work with NZ Transport Agency and the Otago Regional Council on the traffic issue, but noted a second bridge across the Shotover River, or any measure involving "more wheels on the road", would not solve the problem.
He tabled amendments to the resolutions suggested by council staff, which effectively asked them to focus their efforts on the traffic issue before bringing the master plan back to the council table in October.
After alternative amendments by Crs Niki Gladding and Esther White that failed to win support, Mr Boult’s prevailed.
With the exception of Cr Heath Copland, who voted against the resolutions, councillors agreed that implementing the master plan would depend on an "acceptable set of transport interventions" to address traffic congestion, and asked staff to work with the NZ Transport Agency and the regional council to "bring forward decisions" on those.
They also directed staff to continue work on a "staged zoning" approach that would restrict any development on Ladies Mile until transport measures had been been confirmed.