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Wanaka’s building consent boom is “defying soothsayers”, but it would be “crystal ball-gazing” to say how long the trend might continue, Queenstown Lakes District Council planning and development manager Tony Avery says.

The number of residential building consents granted in Wanaka in the 11 months to November this year was 754, despite ongoing challenges presented by national Covid-19 restrictions and shortages of building supplies and labour.

The granted residential building consents in Wanaka were up 15% on the entire period of 2020, when 655 consents were granted despite a Covid-19 induced slow down.

They were up 5% on the entire period of 2019, when 715 consents were granted.

December 2021 figures have not been collated yet.

June was the busiest month for consent processors when 104 were granted for Wanaka.

April and September were also busy months with 80 and 70 consents granted, respectively.

Mr Avery said it was business as usual for staff and contractors processing consents.

Problems keeping up were resolved several years ago and 97%- 98% of consent applications were being processed within statutory timeframes, he said.

Mr Avery confirmed a large level of activity and “no let up of interest” in Wanaka.

Before Covid-19, consent processors had turned over $1billion district-wide and it looked like they would hit that figure again this year, he said.

“I think we, like many, thought in the initial Covid lockdown in 2020 there would be a real marked reduction.

“The whole reaction seems to have confounded the economists, the soothsayers, the variety of crystal ball gazers. It defied everybody,” he said.

QLDC communications adviser Sam White said the council’s policy team would publish updated population and dwelling projections early next year, in the next quarterly monitoring report on urban development capacity.

Last year, the council projected the Wanaka ward population would grow from 8423 permanent residents to 15,200 by 2050, giving Wanaka an 80% increase in population in the next 30 years.

Three priority growth areas for Wanaka were identified in the council’s new spatial plan: the corridor from Wanaka town centre to Three Parks; future urban areas in Hawea and south Wanaka; and existing areas in Luggate and Hawea.

The spatial plan also anticipates Luggate and Hawea will transition from holiday settlements into small towns with increasing numbers of residents.

The projections were driven by two key assumptions: migration would continue (about 1100 per year) and visitors would return, Mr White said.

Wanaka growth

Population 2020:8423

Projected Population 2050: 15,200

Residential building consents issued 11 months to November 2021: 754

Urban housing stock 2020: 7242

Projected housing stock 2050: 13,779

(Data source: Queenstown Lakes District Council)