Opposition is mounting to a proposed Special Housing Area subdivision off Cemetery Rd in Hawea, but the developer in charge says the project will benefit the community.
Universal Developments owner Lane Hocking said the proposal, which would comprise of 800 to 1000 lots on a 122ha block, had not yet been formally put to the council, although there had been two open days on-site to gauge community feeling.
The subdivision is set to be developed as an SHA, which allows development to be fast-tracked under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act and bypasses the Resource Management Act.
Volunteer organisation Keep Hawea Beautiful has started a petition against the proposal, which will be sent to both the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Minister for Housing and Urban Developments.
In a press release last week, the organisation raised concerns that an SHA in Hawea was not needed, as other lots in the area were yet to sell, including Sentinel Park and Timsfield.
“The consensus was that there needs to be a stop to his SHA proposal and move into a traditional rezoning application, as the SHA process is seemingly a railroad technique to introduce a large number of sections into the housing market at Hawea as quickly as possible with as little communication as possible.
“As far as the Hawea community is concerned, as is noted by the early petition signees, this pathway is not the appropriate one to take.”
Other concerns raised by the organisation included increased numbers of people and vehicles in the area, which could have negative flow-on effects such as noise, light pollution, additional boats on the lake, empty holiday homes, higher rental prices, unaffordable houses, and loss of wildlife due to plant and habitat removal.
The petition was launched last month and already has several pages of signatures. The organisation is also calling for a community meeting, rather than a developer-driven session.
Hawea residents and petition signatories Rus and Rosalie Metzger have lived in the area for four years and have a house located next door to the proposed development.
Mr Metzger was concerned that Hawea would lose its rural character if the development went ahead. The township did not have the roads or services to support an influx of people and the subdivision should not be fast-tracked while there were other lots yet to be sold, he said.
“It’s all well and good these guys wanting to make money off their land but not at the expense of the community.”
Mr Hocking said consultation would continue throughout the application process. The Hawea Community Association had also planned a community meeting about the proposal, he said.
“Part of the reason we did the open days was to get feedback from people and there were mixed feelings – some were negative, some were positive, some were neutral.
“We expect when there’s a project in a new location .. there will be some concerns from some elements of the community.
“That’s not unreasonable of them. It’s our job to educate them and try and put forward why we think this is the good proposal, the merit it has, and also emphasise that it’s not going to be very large and in their face tomorrow.”
He said the project was a “master planning idea” that would be implemented long term. He estimated the proposed lots would be filled in 15 to 25 years.
While he acknowledged the SHA was designed to allow developments to be fast-tracked, it was not without “checks and balances”.
“One of the main benefits of a special housing area is there’s a deed between the council and the developer.
“That dictates all the components of the development and the council constantly refers to that deed and makes sure that the developer is doing what the deed laid out.
“The good thing about a deed between the council and developer for an SHA is it spells those things out in great detail and then you’re held to account.”
The benefits of the subdivision included more parks, reserves and playgrounds, along with more choice for housing in the district.
A formal expression of interest was likely to be lodged with the council within the coming months he said.
The petition is available at Sailz Cafe and Soulfoods.