Trust washes its hands of resort plan

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 11/06/2014

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The dream of the McArthur Ridge resort development is "dead in the water" and it is time to move on, a Central Otago District Council hearings panel has been told.

Submitters scrapped for nearly six hours during the hearing in Alexandra yesterday to consider submissions for and against a plan change to Central Otago District Plan to remove McArthur Ridge resource area and replace it with rural resource area.

Peter Langdon Dymock, speaking for the requestor, Canterbury Mortgage Trust, said the hearing was a total mess. "Do you think [the resort] is really going to happen with this total shemozzle? Let's just go back to what it was and let them scrap among themselves."

He said the trust wanted to cut ties with the McArthur Ridge resort development, and returning to a rural resource area would be the easiest, cheapest option for the council. "[The trust] has no intention whatsoever of proceeding with the development, now or ever."

The McArthur Ridge resort development had fallen victim to the global financial crisis of 2008 and subsequent property development bust, Dymock said. The proposed development, located about 6km north of Alexandra, included a golf course, big hotel/lodge, health spa, equestrian centre and cheesery.

"For all practical purposes the planned development is dead in the water. That a development three times the size of the roughly comparable Millbrook or Jacks Point developments located in the Queenstown basin - with all the location advantages that incurs - will ever proceed at this remote location is, quite frankly, pie in the sky."

The Canterbury Mortgage Trust, which controls 77 per cent of the land within the McArthur Ridge resource area, wanted to dispose of the existing 15 titles it controlled within the area, which in the present market could be used for rural purposes, including pastoral farming, viticulture, horticulture and rural residential activity. However, current McArthur Ridge resource area zoning was making properties "virtually impossible to sell", he said.

Warwick Goldsmith, speaking for McArthur Ridge Investment Group, said the possibility of the development was "still alive" with a conditional contract on the table to sell the group land. The hearing was told the interested party was from a "very large Chinese company". The panel reserved its decision.

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