Hawea holds its breath while council deliberates

Months of vocal opposition from the Hawea community against the development of a Special Housing Area (SHA) will come to a head today (Thursday, December 13) at a Queenstown Lakes District Council meeting where the decision will be made whether to progress the Stakeholder Deed to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development so that the Hawea (Universal Developments Hawea Limited) expression of interest be established as a SHA.

The purpose of the meeting is to present feedback from the community which is largely opposed to the development. But whether that opposition is convincing enough remains to be seen. Locals aren’t taking it lying down and to boost their voices and ensure they are at maximum volume, the Hawea Community Association is taking a bus load of locals to Queenstown—with placards in hand—to protest the development.

In short, the developer, Lane Hocking of Universal Developments Hawea Limited, submitted an expression of interest (EOI) for a predominantly residential development of approximately 400 sections, plus a ‘community hub’ area centred on an extended Capell Avenue for community and commercial uses. The Hawea EOI proposed fixed pricing for house and land packages between $464,000 and $550,000.

But April Mackenzie, chair of the Hawea Development and Liaison Committee, is deeply skeptical that that level of development is required.

“Lake Hawea does not have a housing crisis; yet Queenstown-based councillors in particular, are acting as if it did,” she said.

“The most recent data from Statistics New Zealand projects population growth for the Hawea area will require 270 new dwellings over the next ten years (the Hawea area includes Luggate and Makarora).” With Timsfield and Sentinel Park already in development, many believe the inclusion of a SHA will dump a glut of unwanted properties onto the local market.  

John Langley, who is co-ordinating the protest bus, said he’s remaining optimistic that things could go well although he thinks the council made a faulty step at the beginning when the EOI was approved in principle.

“Approving in principle is casting the die,” he said. “It’s like they approved the whole thing and just needed to sort out the details.”

Aside from sentiment opposed to the SHA, there is a legal hurdle because the SHA zone sits outside the Urban Growth Boundary.

“Council have overturned their own policy,” Langley said. “Streats Development, who have one-acre lots zoned rural-residential on the southern side of Cemetery Road applied to reduce the size of the plots to subdivide and council said no because it’s inappropriate to have smaller lots out there. So it’s ridiculous, that on the same street, they wouldn’t allow that but are allowing 400 houses in a SHA.”

But developer Lane Hocking believes there is a strong demand for the properties and has registered interest from over 300 buyers already.

“We’ve got lots of support from across the district in Wanaka and Hawea and 60 submissions were made in our favour,” he said.

Property value statistics prove that Wanaka’s real estate is one of the fastest growing in New Zealand, pricing many workers out of the market. Having a price-capped SHA that can provide a workforce for the growing region makes good sense to the developer—and at today’s meeting, may make good sense to the council.

“We have left no stone unturned. We have a very good product. So now I’m out on a limb and my reputation is at stake putting this out and saying this SHA is needed.”

Seventy percent of the lots will be house and land packages and the remaining 30 percent will be land only but there will be restrictions that the land can’t be resold for five years unless the buyer puts a house on it. This is to prevent people flipping land for a profit and driving up the price of properties that are specifically supposed to be affordable.

Hocking said he’s worked hard to get more continuity and integration with Hawea. “The community was concerned there will be two competing town hubs so we’ve updated our plan to clearly elaborate that we won’t do a tennis club, bowling club or library so there won’t be any competition with the existing town. But there will be shops and commercial operations of some sort,” he said.  

“If all goes well [today], we’d like to break ground early next year.”



 


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