Sale could be ‘dead in the water’

Waitaki Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

MATTHEW LIT­TLE­WOOD AND STUFF

A con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal to de­velop land on the shore of Lake Pukaki could be ‘‘dead in the water’’, ac­cord­ing to one of its op­po­nents.

Land In­for­ma­tion New Zealand (Linz), which man­ages Crown land, has turned down the pro­posed sale, which would have al­lowed the cre­ation of a $5.6 mil­lion tourism ven­ture and bou­tique guest lodge.

The change has been at­trib­uted in part to the change in gov­ern­ment in late 2017.

The planned lodge was to be lo­cated within 40 me­tres of Lake Pukaki. The ap­pli­cants had ar­guedthat it would not spoil the nat­u­ral land­scape and its views.

The Linz de­ci­sion was out­lined in a let­ter to the lawyers for Guide Hill Sta­tion.

Blue Lake In­vest­ment Ltd, to which the Over­seas In­vest­ment Of­fice had granted ap­proval in 2016 to buy the 3551-hectare sta­tion for $16.5 mil­lion, had hoped to build the 805 square me­tre lodge, in­clud­ing a 25m in­door swim­ming pool and a sep­a­rate two-winged gatehouse build­ing, on the east­ern shore of the lake.

A to­tal of 28ha of land on Guide Hill Sta­tion was still owned by the Crown and has not yet been re­leased for sale.

An agree­ment between Guide Hill and Blue Lake would have seen the land sold to Blue Lake, af­ter the Crown had sold it back to Guide Hill, al­low­ing the cre­ation of the lodge.

The let­ter, from John Hook, group man­ager of Crown prop­erty for Linz, said ‘‘due to a re­cent change in Gov­ern­ment and on­go­ing re­view of land use in the Macken­zie Basin, Linz had to en­sure that the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion’s re­quire­ments are still cur­rent and we have re­cently com­pleted our con­sul­ta­tion with rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers’’.

‘‘DOC has con­firmed their re­quire­ments and in­ter­est in pur­su­ing for­mal protection of the land due to sig­nif­i­cant con­ser­va­tion values. There­fore, a de­ci­sion has been made to re­tain the land in Crown own­er­ship.

‘‘I regret to ad­vise that it is no longer avail­able...’’

The lodge pro­posal had been re­ferred to the En­vi­ron­ment Court, af­ter the Macken­zie District Coun­cil re­ceived 18 sub­mis­sions, all of which were in op­po­si­tion.

Queen­stown lawyer Graeme Todd is act­ing for the in­vestors. He said he had only just re­ceived no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the re­fusal of sale.

‘‘We’re ask­ing the En­vi­ron­ment Court to put the ap­pli­ca­tion on hold un­til we can get fur­ther in­for­ma­tion,’’ he said.

‘‘We are un­aware of the specifics of con­ser­va­tion values that was re­ferred to in the let­ter.’’ He main­tained the pro­posed lodge would have had ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant public ben­e­fit’’.

Auck­land-based lobby group En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence So­ci­ety was one of the sub­mit­ters against the pro­posal. Chair­man Gary Tay­lor said the Linz de­ci­sion sig­nalled the winds of change.

‘‘I would think that the Blue Lake pro­posal would be dead in the water now,’’ Tay­lor said.

‘‘We’re look­ing at this de­ci­sion as the first sig­nal of pos­i­tive change. We’ve got a new Min­is­ter of Land and In­for­ma­tion, and we’re start­ing to see joined-up pol­icy.’’

Macken­zie Guardians spokes­woman Ros­alie Snoyink said it was good news for Pukaki. How­ever, the group was wait­ing to see whether Blue Lake would ap­peal the de­ci­sion.

Fed­er­ated Moun­tain Clubs vice-pres­i­dent Jan Fin­layson said she was pleased with the an­nounce­ment. How­ever, she felt it never should have got to this stage in the first place.

‘‘If some­thing is a non­com­ply­ing ac­tiv­ity, which this was, then it’s pretty ob­vi­ous that it should not have been ac­cepted,’’ Fin­layson said.

‘‘It re­ally should have been put to bed much ear­lier in the piece.’’

In De­cem­ber, Linz crown prop­erty deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive Jerome Shep­pard said land which was for­merly part of Guide Hill Sta­tion was taken by the Crown un­der the Public Works Act for the Waitaki Hy­dro Power Project in 1976.

The Macken­zie District Coun­cil planner’s re­port on the pro­posed lodge sug­gested the build­ing would be a ‘‘non­com­pli­ant’’ ac­tiv­ity.

A plan to build a lux­ury lodge on the shores of Lake Pukaki ap­pears ‘‘dead in the water’’ fol­low­ing a de­ci­sion from Land In­for­ma­tion New Zealand, the En­vi­ron­men­tal De­fence So­ci­ety says.

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