A Queenstown developer is calling on Councils throughout New Zealand -- and particularly Queenstown -- to make a genuine effort to canvas community views in relation to planning proposals.
Alastair Porter said to do that they needed to reduce complex proposals to ‘easily understood’ independent survey questions which dealt with key issues. Mr Porter said a prime example of failure to approach planning on this basis was the disastrous Plan Change 19 process that had been looking at options relating to re-zoning of Queenstown’s Frankton Flats that have been going on for more than a decade.
Shotover Park Limited (SPL) announced today (March 6) that it ‘regretted’ it had had to lodge an appeal against Environment Court interim decisions made on Plan Change 19 (PC 19) relating to Frankton Flats development bordering Queenstown Airport, the Queenstown Events Centre and existing business and industrial uses at Shotover Park in Glenda Drive.
Spokesman Mr Porter said the company had “little choice” but to lodge an appeal given the time limit for doing so -- appeals had to be filed by yesterday (March 5).
He said SPL needed to preserve its rights in respect of issues raised by the decision.
However he stressed that the company remained committed to achieving an agreed settlement to avoid further litigation, and planned to meet the Queenstown Lakes District Council as early as tomorrow (March 7) to explore settlement options.
Mr Porter said the protracted PC19 process highlighted an inability for the Queenstown community to be able to shape its own future without having to call in outsiders in the form of expensive consultants, commissioners, lawyers, and ultimately judges, to resolve community issues.
“But the main issue here is that the community was never asked for their views in straightforward terms,” he said.
“Instead the Plan Change documents consisted of some 400 pages of complex and detailed planning matters which confused even the experts and would have quite frankly been incomprehensible from the community’s point of view. If the community had been asked straightforward and simple questions with regard to the issues at the heart of Plan Change 19, we believe wide community feedback would have been received,” he said.
“There is nothing on earth that would motivate any member of the public to ever want to plough through any of those types of documents. It’s an impossible request.
“Our resource management planner, who has 20 years’ experience, told the original planning commissioners she couldn’t advise her clients regarding PC 19 because it was so poorly drafted she couldn’t understand it.”
Mr Porter said PC19’s delays were clearly symptomatic of a much deeper problem with planning process in New Zealand.
“We think councils New Zealand-wide should have an obligation to survey their communities on major planning issues in simple language. Frankly this is a matter that is worthy of government consideration as part of its Resource Management Act reforms.”
“The current Resource Management notification and community consultation arrangements in New Zealand result in costs that are enormous, time to find resolution that takes forever, outcomes that are unpredictable and can result in outcomes that communities may neither want nor ever envisaged.
“Certainly a key reason in Queenstown for the protracted time being taken to resolve Plan Change 19 is that the community’s views and those of affected landowners are not being appropriately considered.
“As a result this Council has spent considerable time and money preventing rather than enabling development on the Frankton Flats.
“For example, for a long time Council opposed both Pak’n’Save and Mitre 10 Mega developments, yet no member of the Queenstown community ever lodged submissions against them. In fact they have been widely supported by members of the public who have expressed their views to those associated with the development of these stores.
“These are facilities that are directly related to making Queenstown a more affordable place to live. While the Council maintains that affordability of living is a critical issue for the district, inexplicably it opposes these developments that will improve affordability. “
Mr Porter said Mitre 10 Mega and Pak’n’Save would create a $50m development that would also provide massive construction work for the town.
“Most other towns in New Zealand would have done everything they could to attract this scale of development and employment,” he said.
Mr Porter said the Council had also sought to re-zone some of the Events Centre’s designated sports field land and provide a new retail/industrial zoning. While the Environment Court declined the zoning for retail, the Council has achieved a re-zoning to yard-based industrial use of some land designated for sports fields. He said he doubted the community would be pleased with that outcome.
He recommended in future a more integrated collaborative approach to the zoning of all landowner’s land, and a much greater effort to put together more coherent planning proposals and to clearly explain these to the wider community.
”This would result in outcomes that were much more reflective of community and where possible landowner wishes, less influenced by planning officials and much less costly and time consuming to achieve.”