”An important question is should Council play a proactive role or a reactive role in managing this change. Whatever option is taken it is likely that Ladies Mile will be developed to completion over the medium term.” Source: Para 74 of agenda item 1 April 18, 2019. QLDC Full Council Agenda
- Ladies Mile will be developed within the next 5 – 10 years. This is recognised in the Wakatipu Landuse Study and the 2017 Lead Policy. It is the how and how much that is in question.
- The Special Housing Area (SHA) process allows for a great degree of community (council) control over the development.
- The Housing Infrastructure Fund provides for transit and other infrastructure development PRIOR to building.
- Transport solutions that remove the need for private cars are urgently required as further development happens to the East of the Shotover Bridge and as the need to cut carbon emissions becomes more urgent.
- Transit led development (as proposed in the SHAs) is likely to provide better community outcomes than the other possible routes to development.
The Wakatipu Landuse study has identified the flat, sunny, highly modified land at Ladies Mile as very suitable for residential development. It is not subject to liquefaction, stormwater is manageable, services are close, it has great amenity value and transit led development could improve rather than worsen the congestion problems. Under the district plan, the sites would as of right yield only around 50 large rural sections and any opportunity for urban development and consequent development of transit solutions, would be permanently lost.
I’ve read the reports, visited the sites and noted the overwhelming negative response to the proposals for SHAs at Ladies Mile. I’m still seeing an opportunity for good development that can help meet our needs and honour community aspirations.
“The Ladies Mile provides the opportunity to establish dwellings at a density that can support improved community facilities and recreational areas to what will likely become the largest population centre in the Wakatipu Basin.” Source: para 13, Agenda Item 1, QLDC Council Agenda April 18, 2019
Almost all opposition fed back to council talked about poor transport links. Congestion is clearly a huge issue for those living east of the Shotover Bridge and we have yet to provide good alternative options.
While free flowing traffic across the Shotover River at rush hours may not ever again be a reality, transport may be a solvable problem if we can permit a density level that could justify a transit led, fully serviced village at Ladies Mile.
Under the SHA proposals, this could be a village with its own commercial and mixed use space that connects all the existing neighbourhoods, and the new proposed ones, with tracks, trails and underpasses. A bus network with bus priority lanes would get people to Queenstown, Frankton or Arrowtown.
This ideal fits better into our Vision Beyond 2050, than the more car-centric sprawl, more lifestyle sections with multi-million dollar homes, or more people commuting from Cromwell and Tarras which are the more likely results under the other options for Ladies Mile development.
The SHA proposals in front of us on Thursday (April 18) consider these transport and connectivity issues. The trails trust and transport people have been consulted and their expert opinions included. The Housing Infrastructure Fund would allow development of transit options, and other infrastructural necessities BEFORE any new resident moved in. Other ways of funding infrastructure would not achieve this. For detailed information on how this would happen, please read the covering report for the agenda item which addresses the cumulative impact of the proposed Ladies Mile SHAs.
The RMA option
If the SHA route is not followed, development is likely to happen under the Resource Management Act through provisions or changes to our District Plan. The possible downsides of this are described in para 81 of the report:
- “land use that encourages (locks in) reliance on private cars for accessibility the effects of which is likely to overwhelm the limited capacity of the road network and is difficult to service with public transport.
- lower density land use is inefficient and will require additional land to provide enough land for housing a local centre and adequate community services.
- no contribution of 10% of the land for affordable housing or HIF fund available for infrastructure and potential delays will make development and the houses more expensive.
- Development more likely to occur in an ad hoc manner and given the likely obstacles, will take longer to come to market.”
The upside would be the public process followed, but to me that pales into insignificance given the permanent loss of the potential for a full urban development.
There are two or three more options detailed in the report , each with its own benefits and downsides.
SHAs were developed by the previous government as a way of circumventing an arduous RMA process (in drastic need of reform, but that’s another story) in order to create more supply in the belief that a lack of available land was the limiting factor to creating adequate housing supply. It was not specifically about affordable housing although bigger supply was supposed to help drive down price. This has not been the case yet in Queenstown where the supply is so constrained. The SHA process can cut some of the costs for a developer which means Council can push through benefits such as holding land for commercial use, putting in conditions such as transport links, requesting land for the housing trust.
Our growth projections show that the Wakatipu ward of our district needs an extra 10,000 houses in the next 30 years, nearly 5000 of those in the next 10 years – taking us from just over 13,000 houses in 2018 to over 23,000 in 2048. I think these figures are light. Even if we have a good long slow down in our growth numbers, the 2.1% annual growth predicted is a far cry from the 7% we’ve experienced in recent years. I don’t believe we can get anywhere close to that number of houses (5000) without the SHA fast track. Without this route, we are left with a protracted, appealable RMA track where a judge or commissioners will make decisions and we’ll be lucky to have any scale of housing built at all within the next 5 years.