Michael Hill's 'invisible' houses get go-ahead

HILLSIDE HOMES: An artist's impression in 2007 of an underground home on Michael Hill's property near Queenstown.
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HILLSIDE HOMES: An artist's impression in 2007 of an underground home on Michael Hill's property near Queenstown.

Jewellery magnate Michael Hill is to get his underground houses.

In a decision released yesterday, independent commissioners granted Hill resource consent to build 17 subterranean dwellings on and around his Arrowtown golf course.

The approval flies in the face of a recommendation by Queenstown Lakes District Council planners that the application be declined.

"We are satisfied that none of the identified possible adverse effects of the proposal has any significance ... there are significant positive effects," commissioners John Matthews and Andrew Henderson said.

Application documents show the houses are to have floor areas ranging from 367 to 700 square metres.

Each dwelling would take one of seven designs, some of which include lap pools, wine cellars, libraries, outdoor fireplaces and/or courtyards.

More than half of the dwellings would be built below a ridge southwest of the golf course. A handful would be nestled between fairways.

Mr Hill last week told The Southland Times he was looking forward to building the "world-beating" homes.

He said the design shied away from the resort-style courses that were popular in the United States.

"The Americans put a big colonial clubhouse at the back of the 18th and fill the fairways with homes.

"For me, that spoils everything. We want it to be like a Scottish course, where you see nothing. These homes will be invisible."

Tight conditions have been imposed by both Mr Hill and the commissioners on the way occupants can use the outdoor space on the properties.

"Very stringent controls are also proposed on the use of each house site, to the extent that apart from placing outdoor furniture on a limited-sized area around each house, virtually nothing else can occur," the commissioners say in their report.

"Use of the house lots for the normal trappings of domesticity such as trampolines, spa pools and so forth, will be prohibited."

A spokesperson for The Hills course said further comment would not be made until the period in which appeals could be lodged had lapsed.

 

The Southland Times