Airport noise concerns delay decision on Frankton worker village

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 18, 2024

A planning decision on a proposed accommodation block that could fulfil a tenth of the district's rental demand for the next decade has been delayed as more information on how it will deal with environmental noise at its location is sought.

Although a decision from the Environment Protect Authority was thought to be imminent, the Sydney-based developer behind the project, Eli Shellim, says it will now not be delivered until May, and early June at the latest.

Mr Shellim's company No.1 Hansen Road Limited received approval for a fast-track consenting process for its proposed 554 residential units on Hansen Road, close to Frankton's BP roundabout.

In total, the development could provide housing for 710 people, targeted towards transient workers, with a mixture of accommodation options offered in the block, including some hostel-styled accommodation with access to communal kitchen spaces.

"We are not frustrated by any delays as the EPA has been working within the statutory time frames in which they are able to request further information," Mr Shellim says.

On April 11, the authority made further enquiries to the developer, including asking how they would meet the internal noise standard.

The EPA says it would likely employ an independent advisor to test the site, located across the road from the Queenstown Lakes Event Centre, and located less than three kilometres from the airport.

The concept design of the build provided in the application.

Mr Shellim told Crux this week that the development had agreed to the proposed changes in noise control conditions as proposed by Queenstown Airport Corporation.

QAC's property planning manager Rachel Tregidga says the airport had identified several noise control conditions that could be integrated into the development, that would mostly be effective whilst people were inside their homes and doors and windows were closed.

Ms Tregidga says they had not been directly informed that their proposed changes had been integrated.

"We are pleased to hear that the developer is willing to incorporate these suggestions...however, we know that people love to use their outside spaces, whether that be balconies, gardens, or communal areas, and none of these conditions will mitigate noise for people while they are outdoors."

She says the airport understands and strongly supports the need for worker accommodation in the district, but opposes this location, which sits within the airport's noise boundaries.

"Our concerns are twofold."

She says constructing intensive accommodation so close to the airport, could result in more people being exposed to the noise and that could affect their quality of life.

It could result in "reverse sensitivity", and Ms Tregidga worries there might be pressure to curtail the airport's activities.

The EPA has asked for the developer's plan if the government's $250 million upgrades to State Highway Six, and Six A, are significantly delayed or are not completed.

The residential development is 300 metres from the intersection where the two highways meet.

In the reply to the protection authority delivered on March 19 from No.1 Hansen Road LTD, the developer states they will work with Waka Kotahi to prohibit a right-hand turn out of the Hansen Road development, and force drivers to take a U-turn at the roundabout outside Queenstown Central.

The developer also noted how the upgrades would work with the lifestyle of transient workers and a non-car lifestyle.

"One anticipated outcome of the SH6 upgrade works is that linkages for walking and cycling around the site are improved, which means that residents are able to easily and safely walk or cycle," the developer's response to the EPA says.

As a result of the non-car transport options nearby, the application says there are "limited" car parking spaces available at the site.

Main image: Design mock-ups of the worker village provided to the Environment Protection Authority.

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