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Finding a fair way

June 13 2022 by Paul Taylor

Finding a fair way

If you’ve lived in Queenstown for any length of time, you’ve seen green fields disappear to major development. In the 12 years I’ve been here, just off the top of my head, there’s been Five Mile and Queenstown Central, Shotover Country, and Hanley’s Farm, not to mention dozens of other infill developments. I’d imagine for anyone born here, the scale and speed of the change has been discombobulating and concerning.

Frankton Golf Centre looks to be the latest open space in the path of the whirlwind. Public consultation opened last week on plans to carve off sections of the nine-hole public course, and Queenstown Events Centre land, to make way for the new traffic lights and bus lane upgrades to State Highway 6 and 6A, replacing the old haphazard Frankton BP roundabout.

As box-ticking goes, this ‘consultation’ is as box-tickey as it gets. The $115m NZUP Queenstown Package has been years in the making, and the junction is already designed, so any input from the public is unlikely to have a large impact.

But, as Frankton-based councillor Glyn Lewers pointed out, this could be the “first 100 cuts” of a death by a thousand cuts for the Frankton Golf Centre, which would be reduced to eight holes. Its future has been uncertain for decades. In QLDC’s failed $151 million Shovel Ready application to redevelop the Events Centre, for example, part of the course was earmarked for an Emergency Precinct. Another section of the course is on land leased from Queenstown Airport, as are the netball courts at the back of the Events Centre.

It’s a difficult one, really. It strikes to the heart of how we use the limited land available in Queenstown. Similar arguments played out over the Ladies Mile Masterplan and will undoubtedly over NZSki’s bid to expand The Remarks into The Doolans. How do we find a balance between beautiful open spaces and the need for transport and housing, between protecting the environment and creating amenities, between fun and function?

I’m no advocate for golf, in fact in an editorial I wrote years ago I suggested Kelvin Heights course could be used for affordable housing. It wasn’t a popular suggestion, as you can imagine. No membership for me. You could argue too much of the district land is given over to golf courses. There are six in this relatively small town. But I recognise the enjoyment they bring to many, the communities of members, the tourists they bring in, the jobs, etc. And as for Frankton, it provides a pathway into the sport for all youngsters, even those whose parents aren’t loaded, as well as a place for amateurs to have a cheap round.

Slicing a little off for the benefit of everyone, especially if it encourages more people to take the bus, is probably the right thing to do, but I hope the Golf Centre survives the cut, in some form.

Paul Taylor
Queenstown Media Group

- Paul Taylor