Another David and Goliath battle looms for the Upper Clutha Environmental Society (UCES), as US tech billionaire Peter Thiel prepares to take his battle to build a luxury lodge in Wanaka to the Environment Court.
Second Star lodged an appeal on September 5, against a decision by a Queenstown Lakes District Council independent hearing panel refusing consent for a residence and lodge complex on a 193ha site at Damper Bay, Wanaka.
The ‘‘very large, very long’’ building did not meet the district plan’s visual amenity criteria for outstanding natural landscape, the commissioners said.
The basement floor area was 1165sq m, and the building would stretch for 330m.
An owner’s pod would be 565sq m, and there would also be a back of house building for which incomplete details were lodged.
A 40sq m meditation pod was withdrawn from the application during the hearing.
UCES president Julian Haworth confirmed last week the society would be a party to the appeal. The council is the defendant and has declined to comment because the case is before the court.
Mr Haworth said the UCES stood by its evidence presented at the hearing that Thiel’s lodge would have adverse visible affects.
It is the third time the UCES has fought to protect the same site from inappropriate development.
In 2003-2004, the UCES settled in the Environment Court with the Alpha Burn Station owners on a single residential building platform.
The property was later sold to a group of businessmen who proposed building six houses.
The UCES joined forces with the (now defunct) Wanaka Residents Association and the Environmental Defence Society in 2011 and 2012 to defeat the development.
The land was sold to Second Star Ltd, for a reported $13.5 million in 2015.
Second Star announced its plans in 2021.