Opinions on a residential build overlooking Lake Wānaka may now be possible after the High Court in Invercargill found the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) erred when it allowed the resource consent application of Nature Preservation Trustee Ltd (NPTL) to be dealt with as "non-notified."
A 1166sqm house proposed to be built overlooking Lake Wānaka in an area designated an "outstanding natural landscape" was granted consent to replace a 650sqm home on a 7.6ha property on Mt Aspiring Rd.
The reserved decision followed a hearing on June 22 when Justice Rachel Dunningham declared both the Council's notification decision and the decision to grant the consent invalid.
Dunningham noted that the majority of the house would be underground and was intended to be "more sympathetic" to the landscape than the existing one.
Neighbouring property owners Trilane Industries Ltd (TIL) - which owns Whare Kea Lodge - applied for the judicial review on a point of law. Whare Kea Lodge is a luxury visitor accommodation facility. The second respondent, NPTL owns a 7.6 hectare property adjacent to TIL's property, which also fronts the lake.
NPTL applied, in 2018, to remove the existing 650 m2 two-level, schist clad residential building which was constructed on the site in 1998, and erect, in its place, a new two-level residential building
Central to the case was the assessment by the Council's landscape architect Helen Mellsop who considered the new house would be "more visually prominent" than the existing house.
She considered the finished development would be visible from the foreshore and would be visually prominent from the end of Ruby Island Road, from parts of the Millennium Track and the lake and would detract from the "naturalness, pleasantness and coherence of the views to a high degree."
These effects would be greater than those of the existing dwelling she stated.
However, she considered that over time "the existing and proposed indigenous planting would enhance the naturalness of views to the site” and mitigate adverse visual effects on users of the Millennium Track to a low or very low level. This is likely to take about 8 - 10 years if the planting on the site and around the track establishes and grows well. This is a reasonably long period of adverse effect."
Dunningham said the Council was to reconsider whether to publicly notify NPTL's resource consent application.
"The increased visual effects are likely to be moderate in extent when the construction is completed and to reduce to a low level over five to seven years as planting matured," she said.
The Council, when deciding not to notify the application publicly, took the view that the effects would be "no more than minor."
Dunningham said the Council erred in ignoring a temporary adverse effect.
"It also cannot average out effects over time to say that a temporary moderate adverse effect which will, in due course, reduce to a low or extremely low effect is, therefore, a minor or less than minor effect."
The owner of NPTL is Wanaka lawyer Janice Margaret Hughes.
View edition 984 of the Wānaka Sun here.