An iconic view used to promote New Zealand as ‘100 percent pure’ could soon be mired by an 89-house property development.
The planned Queenstown subdivision would see a densely-packed development replace a densely-wooded hillside overlooking Shotover River at Arthur’s Point – a landscape which has been used very successfully to promote Aotearoa’s pristine wilderness to international tourists.
Now the man behind the ‘100 percent Pure NZ’ campaign, M&C Saatchi’s worldwide former chair Tom Dery, is leading the fight to stop what he sees as a degradation of the famous landscape.
Dery, who owns a luxury holiday home in the suburb overlooking the site, is chair of the Arthur’s Point Outstanding Natural Landscape Society formed to fight the development.
He says rezoning some of the land as urban will allow the panorama sweeping over the Shotover River towards Bowen Peak to be “desecrated” by the Atley Road subdivision.
“If this property development goes ahead, it will take one of the great tourism images sold to the world as ‘100 percent Pure’ and turn it into ’50 percent Pure NZ, 50 percent suburb’” he told the Otago Daily Times.
“Somebody’s going to look back some time in the future and say, ‘how did this happen?”‘
While Queenstown Lakes District Council’s own experts advised against the rezoning on landscape and traffic grounds, the council authorised the rezoning as part of a new district plan.
The development area may be covered in noxious wilding pines but according to Dery, the existing flora “enhances that whole view”.
“It stays green during the summer and turns gold during the autumn and is one of the most wonderful attractions in that particular area,” he said.
Fellow society member Matt Semple told the Times: “We were surprised to discover at the 11th hour that council has chosen to disagree with its experts and rezone an area of ‘outstanding natural landscape’.
“This will effectively destroy one of Queenstown’s iconic views which people around the world describe as ‘beyond picture-perfect’.
“In fact, this view is so iconic it has featured on a postage stamp.
“Council claims, in its proposed district plan, that it seeks to preserve iconic views from development, so why is it actively seeking to destroy them?”
The society has asked to be a party to district plan review proceedings filed against the council by the Upper Clutha Environmental Society.
It has also lodged an Environment Court appeal against the decision.