DevelopmentsManagementTourism

Wanaka residents fight back over developer’s gag

A Wanaka developer is being taken to the High Court over covenants which stop residents objecting to a 113-room hotel development in the town’s Northlake subdivision.

A community group titled Wanaka Community Supporting Our Northlake Neighbours filed a civil court application for a declaratory order last month.

In its statement of claim, the group said the High Court had ”wide jurisdiction” under the Declaratory Judgments Act 1908 to consider whether the no-objection covenant imposed by Northlake Investments Ltd ”is invalid and/or unlawful”.

According to Stuff, the group claims that while the courts had upheld no-complaints covenants before, Northlakes’ arrangements ”go well beyond what has previously been accepted as valid and/or lawful”.

”They prevent the residents from objecting to anything, no matter how inappropriate or great the effects are on them, or how far the activity departs from the scheme promised to the residents,” said the submission.

”The society contends that the Northlake Investments Ltd no-objection covenants are contrary to public policy and therefore … invalid and/or unlawful.”

It argues residents should be able to object to Northlake’s proposed hotel in the subdivision, because when they bought their properties the accommodation was not part of the subdivision’s master plan.

The hotel, to be built on the site of a tennis court, is designed to complement the developer’s large-scale development plan for the South Island town, which includes a 1500-home subdivision and a retail space including a restaurant, early childhood centre and office buildings.

Queenstown Lakes District Council received some 140 submissions in opposition to the original application, and not one in support of the hotel proposal.

However, despite planner Sarah Gathercole recommending refusal saying replacement of the tennis court with a hotel would have “unacceptable adverse effects on the amenity and character of Northlake”,  the Environment Court granted consent earlier this year.

Several changes to Northlake’s original development master plan have angered residents, with promised public amenities including a community hub and swimming pool ditched by the developers in favour of a retirement village and supermarket.

The action group president Niamh Shaw told Stuff that although the Environment Court had the authority to challenge the validity of the no-objection clauses, ”the no-objection clauses do not permit residents to represent their position in Environment Court without threat of liability for costs”.

Ms Shaw said nobody was currently holding the developer to account for its actions over the Wanaka site. The group will look to tap the Ministry for the Environment’s environmental legal assistance fund to help cover its legal fees.

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Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: editorial@accomnews.co.nz

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