Wanaka Community Supporting our Northlake Neighbours Inc filed their appeal against Northlake Investments Ltd and Queenstown Lakes District Council on Tuesday. The decision to approve the hotel was met with widespread outrage amongst the Wanaka community and they have shown they won’t take the ruling lying down.
Lawyer for WCSNNI James Gardner-Hopkins stated in the appeal documentation that one of the main reasons they are appealing is that the Decision gave insufficient weight to the Outline Development Plan and the reliance that the neighbours and community surrounding the proposal site gave to the ODP.
In the original ODP the site in question which is currently surrounded by residential development, was acquired by their residential owners in the expectation that the site would be developed in accordance with the ODP which showed two tennis courts and a business park, the latter with five small buildings (not a 113-room hotel).
The commissioners ruled that residents who purchased properties around the site should have expected the unexpected and “[the hotel] cannot be regarded as fundamentally unacceptable even if it challenges the grounds on which people initially chose to make a living and other investment Decisions.” For residents who have ploughed their life savings into a property on Merivale Ave believing they were to be part of a community, the Decision has felt particularly abrasive. What has particularly stuck in their throats, is the commissioners’ ruling that “we additionally find that the inability of any of the residents living on Merivale Avenue and Mount Creighton Crescent to make submissions to us based on the restrictive Northlake covenants (assuming that they might have wished to), has not impeded our ability to consider adverse effects on them and reach reasoned and appropriate findings on the matter.”
Gardner-Hopkins contests that “Irrespective of the lawfulness of the ‘non-objection’ covenants, their existence resulted in there being no residents or directly affected community members before the Commissioners. Accordingly, the Commissioners did not hear from the neighbours and community affected by the application. This is problematic, as it is the neighbours and community affected by an application are best placed to identify impacts of any proposal on the environment valued by them, including amenity values, and making submissions about provisions of the Act and findings in relevant case law on these matters. In other words, the Commissioners were deprived of important evidence on key matters. This is the direct result of the applicant’s non-objection covenants (lawful or not).”
Gardner-Hopkins frequently hinted at the illegality of the non-objection covenants which reportedly could be contested at the High Court if enough funds were found to mount a challenge. For now, the costs involved in this appeal are the focus.
Niamh Shaw from WCSNNI said, “This is an important move to preserve our opinion and give us the option to appeal; however, although we have every intention of appealing, there are significant costs involved. Bringing it to court is conditional on raising the necessary funds.”
She continued, “If anyone can contribute towards the remaining $650 to lodge the appeal, we would be most grateful! Please feel free to message us; or if you feel compelled to immediately throw cash, our bank account details are on our Facebook page.”