Wānaka Sun       

Mount Iron Junction refusal due to “out-dated zoning”

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 18 Jun, 2020 | By Joanna Perry newsdesk@thewanakasun.co.nz

Director of Mount Iron Junction Ltd Steve Schikker has said that the decision to deny resource consent for the company's proposed mixed-use development at the base of Mt Iron in April was the result of “out-dated zoning” of the land, 

Consent was sought in February for a mixed-use development, the first stage of which would include a service station, workers' accommodation, childcare centre and mini golf facility at the intersection of State Highways 6 and 84 between Wānaka, Lake Hāwea and Cromwell. 

But in April, the commissioners said the proposed development was likely to be "jarring" and of a scale and intensity "significantly greater than any existing activity close by (that which can be seen from the site)".

They concluded that the non-complying activity on land zoned rural general would have adverse effects on the landscape, the network of Wānaka's commercial centres, and the cumulative effects of the proposal would draw a large volume of visitors into a predominantly rural setting.

Schikker described the rural general zoning as an “anomaly”, because “no one has applied to do anything with it for twenty years.” The land was now adjacent to a church and residential zone, with additional developments close by - including the BP Garage and the Three Parks development - and no longer had rural value, he said.

Schikker said that he had been incorrectly advised by council in a pre-application onsite meeting with Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) planners and policymakers to proceed with a resource consent application, when instead a plan change request to rezone the land was needed. 

A council spokesperson responded that; “Council does not give advice about whether an applicant should pursue a resource consent or district plan approach for proposed developments,” but Schikker told the Wānaka Sun that the advice was recorded in the meeting minutes.

"We were told by the council staff, the planning staff, to move forward with a resource consent application. So, we did that, in good faith," he said.

The development had community backing from local organisations including from the Chamber of Commerce and Lake Wānaka Tourism, as well as the public. 35 public submissions were made, of which 25 were in support. Schikker said that, despite being a “positive person,” he was starting to wonder “is there something else we don't know about?”

It was agreed by vote at a closed meeting last week that council would proceed with mediation as part of Mt Iron Junction Ltd's Environment Court appeal against the decision. The mediation will take place in August.

“We just want to get engagement with the council and find an economically viable, socially acceptable solution - something that works for everybody,” said Schikker. Having already spent three years and $450,000 on the project, he hoped to secure council's support to get the land rezoned.

Read edition 979 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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