'Informal' and 'ad hoc': QLDC responds to kicked-out Ballantyne businesses

by Kim Bowden - May 23, 2024

The Queenstown Lakes District Council is standing by its decision to make businesses move on from land it owns on Ballantyne Road in Wānaka, despite having no progress update on the waste transfer station it plans to build there.

However, the council is showing some flexibility with the 30 day deadline it last week gave the 14 businesses operating from the site to be gone.

QLDC property director Quintin Howard tells Crux the council did not take the decision "lightly".

"We issued a formal notice to initiate the legal process and ensure those tenants affected had a clear understanding from the beginning.

"As the new landowner, council wishes to pursue the development of facilities on the site for the benefit of the wider community and ratepayers."

The council bought the 8.3-hectare property at 189 Ballantyne Road for $3.36 million late last year with a view to siting a waste transfer station on it, but since then those working from yards set up there under the previous owner say it has been radio silence from the authority.

Ash Whitaker, of Peak Contracting, who operates from the site, diarised 27 phone calls to various people at the council seeking an update on the situation - he claims none of them were returned.

He, and several other business owners, have described to Crux feeling blindsided by the eviction notice they received by email from a council staff member on Thursday, which has led to them scrambling to find alternative homes.

But Mr Howard pushes back at this, saying, "The notice would not have been entirely unexpected once QLDC purchased the site".

He says the businesses at the site "have very informal tenancies with no documentation in place" and reflect "a range of ad hoc activities being undertaken".

Jason Morgan, the owner and director of Central Lakes Engineering, earlier this week told Crux his business uses a fenced yard there for sand blasting and painting, which he can't easily do in town.

He has jobs lined up that rely on use of the space.

Like others spoken to, he is concerned about where to next, saying there is a general lack of suitable industrial spaces for work of this nature in Wānaka.

Although not implied in its official written correspondence to businesses, Mr Howard tells Crux the council is working "closely with tenants to ensure as easy a transition as possible and to minimise any disruption to their business activities".

"We have told these tenants informally that we’re open to extending the period to vacate beyond the 30 days indicated."

When it announced the land purchase in December, the council outlined a plan to build a "new fit-for-purpose transfer station" on the site, saying the facility would "play a pivotal role in advancing waste management practices within the Upper Clutha".

This week, the council was unable to provide any update on progress since then, other than to say, "We look forward to sharing more about the opportunities for this site and council’s plans in due course".

Among the business operating on the land, which sits adjacent to Wastebusters, are AllWaste Wānaka, Central Lakes Engineering, Gallagher Civil, Apex Contracting, Wānaka Fence Hire, and Peak Contracting.

Main image: The yards at 189 Ballantyne Road are well used by local businesses, but a notice issued last week by the council says everything must be go within 30 days.

Read more: Wānaka businesses homeless as QLDC evicts them from Ballantyne Road 



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