Environment Court to decide Wānaka luxury lodge's future

by Lauren Pattemore - Mar 04, 2024

American billionaire Peter Thiel's battle with the Queenstown Lakes District Council to build a luxury lodge in Wānaka continues this week at the Environment Court.

A hearing began at the Queenstown District Court today with Environment Court Judge Prudence Steven KC overseeing the case.

It's scheduled to run for the rest of the week.

Mr Thiel’s company, Second Star Ltd, applied for resource consent to build a grass-roofed complex into the hillside on his 193-hectare block of land at Damper Bay, but this was rejected by a three-person hearing panel in August 2022.

Now-mayor Glyn Lewers was on the panel.

The decision said the building would "be inappropriately dominant" for the area, classified as an Outstanding Natural Landscape in the council's proposed district plan, where limited development is allowed.

Due to its location, the house would also be visible from the Glendhu Bay Walking Track.

Following the decision, Mr Thiel appealed to the Environment Court in September 2022, and the Environment Court hearing was scheduled after unsuccessful private mediation between the two parties.

The lodge was designed by Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Associates, who also designed the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, and it would have capacity to accommodate up to 30 guests.

Mr Thiel is the co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor into Facebook.

There is no timeline for when Judge Steven will deliver a decision, but a court spokesperson says it will happen "in due course following the hearing".

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