Farm owner cautious about studio film park plan

Corbridge Estates, east of Wanaka, has been bought by Silverlight Studios with a view to...
Corbridge Estates, east of Wanaka, has been bought by Silverlight Studios with a view to establishing a film park. Inset: The Silverlight Studios team of (from left) Jonathan Harding, Ra Vincent and Mike Wallis. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED
Corbridge Farm co-owner Peter Marshall is not too excited about the $280million Silverlight Studio film park proposal for Wanaka yet, because a decision has not been made.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) released information on its website confirming Silverlight Studios had provided all the information the authority required to process a fast-track resource consent.

The next stage is for the authority to appoint a panel to decide the application.

The studios are proposed for Corbridge farm, near Wanaka Airport.

Mr Marshall and his neighbours, Lloyd and Julie Ferguson, are co-owners.

"It’s up to the planners and powers that be," he said.

"If approved, I assume they will buy it."

It did excite him the film industry might be coming to Wanaka.

"There are two sides to the coin. Watching social media today, it’s the first time some people have seen the scale, numbers like 4000 jobs ... 8000 to 10000 more people and what the impact of that is," Mr Marshall said.

Some could be excited about that, but there were concerns about transport networks, he said.

"Obviously that’s up to the community to sort out," he said.

The people behind Silverlight Studios are Weta Digital veteran Mike Wallis, double Oscar nominee Ra Vincent (The Hobbit and Jojo Rabbit) and film accountant Jonathan Harding.

Silverlight spokeswoman Melissa Booth said the trio were reluctant to speak to media because the authority had released information too early and no decision had been made.

"The feeling at the moment is that it is not a great time.

"They want to wait until there is something to talk about," she said.

Queenstown Lakes district councillor Quentin Smith, of the Wanaka ward, said the Silverlight development was of a scale that would not sit comfortably in a normal planning process.

The EPA fast-track process was "very challenging" as it removed the community and the council from involvement, he said.

"I don’t know much more about them than the general public," he said.

"The Silverlight Studio is a really interesting one for Wanaka. [It] would clearly have a massive diversification opportunity for Wanaka to move away from reliance on tourism and provide good employment and training opportunities.

"Like all big industries there will be consequences on infrastructure, housing, growth and our community, which we would have to manage if government is minded to grant the fast track consent," Cr Smith said.

Council strategy and development manager Michelle Morss said sustainable developments that enhanced economic diversity were welcome.

"Film production in particular has been identified as one of the sectors that will help achieve our district-wide goals," she said.

Cr Niamh Shaw, of the Wanaka ward, is on leave and did not respond to questions.

- By Marjorie Cook


Add a Comment