Opposition to special housing area mounts

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More Hawea people have voiced their objection to a special housing area development.

Signatures from 410 local residents had been collected for a petition addressed to Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford, Queenstown LakesMayor Jim Boult and QLDC councillors.

Carmen Howell and Tim Ryan, of Keep Hawea Beautiful, said they organised the petition objecting to a proposal by Universal Developments, owned by Lane Hocking, for a SHA development of 800 to 1000 lots off Cemetery Rd.

The petition called the minister, mayor and councillors to reject any proposals made by Universal Developments for the future of Hawea and its urban development.

“The petition is basically saying that we don’t consent because at this point in time the council has a policy of introducing special housing areas to Queenstown, which is their category one area, and they have a category two area, which is Wanaka, and nowhere in that document does it mention Hawea,” Mr Ryan said.

“There hasn’t been a formal expression of interest happen with the council as far as special housing areas in Lake Hawea, but because of the community consultation that has happened with Lane Hocking, we realise there is something very tangible occurring behind the scenes that’s not official,” Mr Ryan said.

“Within the structure of the act and within the policies, there is no actual requirement for consultation,” Mr Ryan said.

Interviewed recently by The News, Mr Hocking said there would be consultation through the application process, and it was expected there would be concerns from some members of the community.

“That’s not unreasonable of them. It’s our job to educate them and try to put forward why we think this is the good proposal,” he said.

Co-founder of Keep Hawea Beautiful, Carmen Howell, said a key issue was “the rapid urbanisation of our communities”.

The group stood for a reversal of that trend, and a decentralisation of the council, bringing ownership back to local communities, she said.

“The government took away any obligation for the councils to uphold social wellbeing in our communities in 2012,” she said.

“The SHA policy gives massive benefit to the developers, and it’s written throughout the policies, and apparently that’s OK,” she said.

The district council’s senior communications adviser, Rebecca Pitts, said while the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 did not provide formal consultation on the establishment of special housing areas, the council did think it was important that local communities had an opportunity to have a say on any proposals in their area.

“We call for informal feedback on every expression of interest and that feedback is presented to elected members to consider as part of their decision on whether to recommend a proposed SHA to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development,” she said.