Queenstown Lakes spatial plan under fire [Wanaka App, 05/04/21]

Concerned locals gathered at the Lake Wānaka Centre yesterday (Tuesday May 4) to record their dissatisfaction with the draft Queenstown Lakes Spatial Plan. 

At public hearings to the spatial plan, submitters were scathing in their disapproval of the draft plan’s consultative process, the omissions and assumptions, unrealistic and unachievable goals, and flawed premises.

Few said they supported it.

The draft spatial plan, which aims to ensure the district “grows well” over the next 30 years, received more than 800 pages of submissions covering issues ranging from active transport, housing affordability and green zones to climate action, sustainable tourism, freedom camping and planned development.

Two who attended the hearings, Nick Page and Peter Marshall, criticised the draft plan’s population growth projections on which all its premises were based, saying the projections woefully underestimated the growth by suggesting an average increase across the district of only 2.1 per cent per year for the next 30 years.

Peter said the average for Wanaka alone over the past five years was 7.87 per cent, and with the introduction of factors, such as Silverlight Studios looking to establish the film industry in Wanaka and potentially bring in another 3000 residents, he saw no evidence to suggest the district’s annual population growth would suddenly drop to 2.1 per cent.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) has a terrible history of underestimating growth, Nick said: “Council is pulling the wool over people’s eyes with these figures. Residents deserve an honest and realistic population projection assessment.”

Rural property owner Mike Garnham said it was time for the QLDC to properly plan for the anticipated growth rather than just react to developers’ ad hoc rezoning applications.

“It’s naive to say or think we’re going to control growth in Wanaka,” he said. “Whether we like it or not, Wanaka will grow; it will develop.”

Several of those who spoke at the hearings were disillusioned with the inadequate consultation process, saying the 2019 workshops were misdirected and “vague” and locals were given only one month to comprehend the hefty draft plan and create a submission. 

Being allocated only five minutes in which to make their presentation to the hearings panel was further evidence of the poor consultative process, they said.

“This has not been a robust, open and transparent approach to consultation on plans for our district’s future,” Wanaka Stakeholder’s Group spokesperson Mark Sinclair said. “This process does not meet the requirements of the Local Government Act or the key principles of good consultation.”

He said the spatial plan doesn’t take into account the revocation of the Wanaka Airport lease which effectively resets the scene to 2017 and that a “placeholder” regarding the airport’s future should be inserted into the draft plan until “robust discussions” between the community and council were completed.

Other submitters spoke about the draft plan’s theme of “growing well” and its underlying assumption that communities wished to continue to expand.

Read this in full here.

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