Council told to revisit property call

Fishermen first reported algae in Lake Wanaka in the early 2000s.
The public might yet get the chance to have a say about a big house proposed to be built overlooking Lake Wanaka in an area designated an outstanding natural landscape.

Justice Rachel Dunningham, in the High Court in Invercargill, has found the Queenstown Lakes District Council erred when it allowed the resource consent application of Nature Preservation Trustee Ltd (NPTL) to be dealt with as "non-notified".

In a reserved decision following a hearing last month, Justice Dunningham declared both the council’s notification decision and the decision to grant the consent invalid.

"The council is to reconsider whether to publicly notify NPTL’s resource consent application."

The consent was for a 1166sqm house to replace a 650sqm house, and for a 410sqm accessory building on a 7.6ha property on Mt Aspiring Rd.

Justice Dunningham noted about 68% of the new building would be underground and was intended to be "more sympathetic" to the landscape than the existing one.

Neighbouring property owners Trilane Industries Ltd — which owns Whare Kea Lodge — applied for the judicial review on a point of law.

Central to the case was the assessment by the council’s landscape architect Helen Mellsop who considered the new house would be "more visually prominent" than the existing house.

"The increased visual effects are likely to be moderate in extent when the construction is completed and to reduce to a low level" over five to seven years as planting matured.

The council, when deciding not to notify the application publicly, took the view effects would be "no more than minor".

Justice Dunningham said the council erred in ignoring a temporary adverse effect.

"It also cannot average out effects over time to say that a temporary moderate adverse effect which will, in due course, reduce to a low or extremely low effect is therefore a minor or less than minor effect."

The owner of NPTL is listed on the Companies Office website as Wanaka lawyer Janice Margaret Hughes.

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