Royalburn Farming Company owns a property of some 483 hectares located on both sides of the Crown Range Road in the Queenstown-Lakes District. It applied to QLDC for consent to subdivide 20 lots from the property to provide rural lifestyle allotments, each with a building platform. When consent was refused, Royalburn appealed. Between the lodging of the appeal and the matter coming to hearing Royalburn had reduced its application so that it now sought only 14 lots. The witnesses called by the council conceded that consent could properly be granted to six or eight lots. The issue in this case is how many, and which, of the rural lifestyle lots proposed can be granted consent consistent with the maintenance of the visual and rural amenity of the Crown Range. Essentially the question is at what point does over-domestication compromise the qualities of the Crown Range landscape to an unacceptable degree, keeping in mind the mitigation and environmental compensation offered by the applicant. The parties agree that the site is contained within a visual amenity landscape which comprises the Crown Terrace. The parties also agree that within the continuum of landscapes that make up the visual amenity landscapes of the district, the landscape in which this proposal is set is at the higher end of the spectrum.
The Environment Court had found 11 lots "could receive consent on quite strict conditions. The revised application sought to create the lots on the southwestern side of the Crown Range Rd, clustered in three groups, with lots varying in size from 0.78ha to 1.35ha and each lot having a building platform of 1000sq m. The Court considered that the proposals represent an efficient use of the land and has appropriate regard for the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values and the quality of the environment.
Given that the draft conditions had become agreed to a high level of detail by the conclusion of the hearing, they are attached to this decision which is a final one. Leave is however reserved to approach the Court within 3 months of the date of the decision if minor changes or clarifications are needed, for instance for internal consistency or to ensure that the essence of the decision is met in an enforceable way. Following a hearing in Queenstown between August 2 and 4, the Judge granted consent for the revised subdivision, subject to the now 21 conditions.
The additional conditions included a covenant to ensure there were no cats on any of the lots. Another covenant was to be registered against all the residential lots created by the subdivision "providing that none of the owners or occupiers shall complain against or in any way restrict the ongoing legitimate farming activities occurring within the balance lot, or within the balance of Royalburn Farm". A third covenant was to be registered on several lots to ensure they continued to be managed in productive farming and pastoral states and not be further subdivided and there was no residential development. Also included in the additional conditions was the requirement for an archaeological assessment before earthworks began.