Housing effects must be considered in studio consent

The impact on Wanaka’s housing market of a multimillion-dollar film studio will be considered as...
The impact on Wanaka’s housing market of a multimillion-dollar film studio will be considered as part of the project’s fast-track consenting process. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Lawyers have advised a panel it must consider Wanaka’s housing affordability and availability when deciding whether a $280 million film studio development should be approved.

The panel, which is deciding on the fast-track proposal for Silverlights Studios plan to build a film studio on the outskirts of Wanaka, sought legal advice after a report from Market Economics consultant Natalie Hampson found the project could cause a short-term housing ‘‘shock’’.

Brookfields lawyer Matthew Allan and special counsel Lisa Wansbrough’s five-page legal opinion is now available on the Environment Protection Authority’s website.

‘‘Our answer ... is yes. The potential impact of the proposal on the availability of accommodation in the Wanaka/Upper Clutha area and the potential issue of upwards pressure on housing prices/rents in the short term are matters to which the panel must have regard, pursuant to [the Fast Track Consenting Act],’’ the lawyers told the panel.

‘‘We consider the proposal’s potential additive pressure on the local housing market (and its impact on housing availability and housing affordability) is a relevant adverse effect to which the panel must have regard.’’

The lawyers referred to Environment Court cases stretching back to 1996, where housing impacts had been recognised as relevant.

All reasonably foreseeable effects, whether positive or negative, could be considered, they said.

Economic considerations, as opposed to the financial viability of a proposal, were matters the panel had to consider under the Resource Management Act.

Social effects were also ‘‘well established as a class of effect’’.

These were relevant matters under both the Resource Management Act regime and the fast-track process created by recent Covid-19 economic recovery legislation.

‘‘A broad rather than narrow approach to assessing potential effects is required,’’ the lawyers said.

The Mt Barker Residents Association, the Roberts Family Trust and Wanaka resident Steve Grieve mentioned housing availability challenges and upwards pressure on house prices in their submissions on the fast-track proposal.

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