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The decision on whether a $50 million superstore bundle can be built on the Frankton Flats has been "outsourced" by Queenstown's council - signalling economic impact could now be considered in major development decisions.
Last week Queenstown Lakes District Council general manager of planning and development Marc Bretherton dropped the bombshell that could resolve years of wrangling for Pak 'n Save and Mitre 10 Mega backers.
"In the council's regulatory function we have accepted resource consent applications for processing," he said.
"But we have agreed with the applicants that a recommending report by a planner and a decision by an independent commissioner will both be outsourced to retain absolute independence."
The push to build the stores near Glenda Drive by Foodstuffs South Island, Pak 'n Save's parent company, and Mitre 10 Mega backers Crossroads has lasted for years.
The roadblock has been Plan Change 19, which sought to zone the land for industrial use only - locking out the large retailers.
Given that Plan Change 19 was initiated by the council, outsourcing guaranteed independence, Mr Bretherton said.
Mr Bretherton was appointed head of the council's new planning and development division in June, after a review axed the council's planning and regulatory arm, Lakes Environmental, and brought it in-house.
South Island Foodstuffs general manager of property and retail development Roger Davidson and Crossroads' Jason Smith both preferred not to comment on the latest twist to the consent saga.
Processing a resource consent application is usually handled by a council planner. Crucially, processing includes writing a recommendation for the commissioner charged with making the final decision.
Both consents will now be handled by Allan Cubitt, principal of Dunedin's Cubitt Consulting.
Jane Taylor will be commissioner's chairwoman and David Clark will assist her with the final decision.
- The Mirror
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