Community group rallies against development

Lake Hawea. Photo: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

Community group Keep Hawea Beautiful is mobilising the public to oppose plans for a new Special Housing Area in the area.

The group, which exists to give the community a voice on the town’s future, is firmly against the move proposed by Universal Developments (UD), which could see 1000 new sections built near Cemetery Road.

KHB spokesperson Tim Ryan said news of the plan came completely out of the blue when a flyer landed on his doormat.

“The flyers were an invite to open days in March to learn about Special Housing Areas (SHA). Next thing we know, there’s the article on Stuff about SHAs in Wanaka and Hawea and that was the first we heard of it. When it started talking about 1000 sections and a SHA, I thought ‘what’s a SHA?’

“It could be potentially devastating for a small community. One thousand really means, by the time they are finished with it, 2500,” he said.

Fellow KHB spokesperson Carmen Howell agreed, saying the community was alarmed about the effect it could have on Hawea’s environment.

“There isn’t the demand. The developer is forcing growth on a community that doesn’t want it. This development is at odds with the Strategic Plan.

“Hawea for generations has been a place for families to come to for quietness and solitude. It was a place people could fish and hunt. We also have to uphold our landscape, our water, our rivers, the things that draw people here. It’s the very things that property developers want to exploit.

“We see our community is stressing out at the prospect of this. We have had enough.”

The proposal has not yet been approved by Queenstown Lakes District Council, but KHB has acted quickly to start a petition against it and collected almost 200 signatures in just over a week. The petition will be passed to Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) and the Housing Minister at the end of the month.

KHB also wants a moratorium on the issue until the Hawea 2020, a plan adopted by QLDC and the community in 2003, runs its full course. The group feels the town should be given the opportunity to create another, longer term plan after it expires.

“We could start a 2050 process and do a 30-year plan for Hawea and factor in affordable housing, rather than a property developer coming in from Wellington,” Carmen said.

“It’s not about anti-growth. It’s about being strategic,” Tim said.

In response, UD’s owner Lane Hocking said he had taken on-board community concerns, but felt the development would benefit Hawea.

“With growth there will naturally be some community questions, but it's important to remember that this project will evolve over a period of time. We've taken a lot of feedback from the community on what they'd like to see incorporated into any development that may take place. While there will be a broad offering of house and land packages under $550k, the proposal's merit won't be based solely on affordability.

“Hawea is a beautiful location and in addition to affordability, we aim for a well-planned subdivision with community space, playgrounds and potentially a commercial element. The theme to date has been if the development is done well, it will benefit the district.
“We see this as a fantastic opportunity to support local growth in a positive way,” he said.

UD will now look to submit its expression of interest to QLDC within the next one to two months.

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