QLDC might face $1m legal bill for plan battle

The Queenstown Lakes District Council's legal bill to keep Pak 'n Save and Mitre 10 Mega stores off the Frankton Flats might have topped $1 million.

The figure was mentioned in yesterday's council strategy committee meeting - but is not conclusive.

It came up when councillor Simon Stamers-Smith commented on a non-agenda item - whether the council should pull out of the plan change to rezone the Frankton Flats, because he thought the only benefits resulting from the plan change would be reaped by two large-scale land developers.

"I believe court proceedings for the Frankton Flats plan change has cost over a million dollars," he said. "Can we not extricate ourselves from what is essentially an argument between two commercial enterprises and some sideliners?"

The two parties alluded to were Queenstown Central Ltd - backers of the $125m Five Mile mall, which has received resource consent to build on the Frankton Flats near the Queenstown Events Centre - and Shotover Park Ltd, the backers of a $50m Pak 'n Saveand Mitre 10 Mega store bundle near the Glenda Drive end of the flats.

The latest in a series of Environment Court and High Court hearings and appeals involving the council, both companies and Foodstuffs South Island Ltd - the parent company of Pak 'n Save - began in Queenstown on Monday.

Inquiries also revealed Pak 'n Save also applied for resource consent to build on the Frankton Flats in the past few weeks, but has put the application on hold.

At the heart of the wrangle is Shotover Park's insistence that the Pak 'n Save and Mitre 10 Mega stores should go on the land they have earmarked near Glenda Drive. The council's view is that that land should be zoned for light industrial use, not retail.

Queenstown Central backs that view.

Cr Stamers-Smith's call for the council to pull out of proceedings was not supported by others.

Committee chairman Leigh Overton said abandoning plan change proceedings now could drastically change the plan change's initial thrust, which is to provide for Queenstown's growth by setting aside land for light industrial businesses like builders' and plumbers' yards.

Cr Cath Gilmor was more direct in her wording. "This is too much of an important chunk of land for us to leave to developers to decide."

The Southland Times immediately filed an Official Information Act request with the council to pinpoint the exact cost of the council's legal proceedings related to plan change 19.

The Southland Times