Two SHAs declined, one approved

Queentown's councillors have drawn a line in the sand over development on Ladies Mile, and sent a strong message to the NZ Transport Agency, over concerns about traffic and transport infrastructure.

Queenstown Lakes District councillors voted to decline three special housing area (SHA) proposals for the area at its council meeting today.

The vote to decline the controversial 156-home Laurel Hills SHA was unanimous, while the vote on the two adjacent SHAs (423 units) on the northern side of Ladies Mile was split- four in favour of the proposal, six against.

Those in favour were councillors Quentin Smith, John MacDonald, Penny Clark, and Alexa Forbes.

One SHA did manage to get the green light.

The 600-house Coneburn development near Jack's Point was approved unanimously.

Mayor Jim Boult attempted to light a fire under NZTA, saying he was "strongly of the opinion that NZTA have dropped the ball completely'' in regards to addressing traffic issues on Ladies Mile.

He believed the council could not approve any further development on Ladies Mile until they were addressed.

He called a lack of input from NZTA "disappointing''.

Addressing developers in the room, he said their proposals were "fair and reasonable'', and he did not believe the council was opposed to development at Ladies Mile in the future. 

A key issue was the status of the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), a $24 million interest-free loan announced by the Government last year to speed up development and fund infrastructure along Ladies Mile.

The money hinged on housing developments being green-lit in the area, and if none were approved by mid-to-late next year, it would be withdrawn.

Cr Val Miller said governments "all dangle money in front of us at different times''.

"If we lose the HIF fund, there will be some other opportunity that comes along.'' 

However, Cr Clark said the council needed to step up and allow affordable housing to occur.

She said the council needed to ensure the rapdily growing district was "fit for purpose'', and the traffic issues of today should not dictate the future.

Cr Smith raised concerns about the level of control the council would have over development on Ladies Mile if it went throught the Resource Management Act process, rather than the Special Housing Area process.

Cr Scott Stevens said the SHA process was "the devil we know'', but he believed declining the proposals was "a risk worth taking''. 

The proposals, and particularly those located along Ladies Mile, have generated strong opposition from the public. The council received hundreds of submissions on the proposals during public consultation, which were overwhelmingly negative.

Queenstown Lakes District Council staff had recommended councillors green-light the Laurel Hills special housing area development in principle.

Developers propose building 156 homes along Ladies Mile, in a move that riled up Shotover Country and Lake Hayes Estate residents.

Council planners said it should be approved, although they warned the council would have to address major traffic and transport issues.

More than 300 submissions on the proposal were made during public consultation, with just three predominantly in favour of the development. 

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