Recommendations released on the future of Visitor Accommodation within residential zones in the Queenstown Lakes District

The Report and Recommendations of Independent Commissioners on Stage 2, Visitor Accommodation was released recently. The Commissioners’ recommendations will shape the future of Visitor Accommodation in the Queenstown Lakes District.

The full report and recommendations of the Independent Commissioners can be accessed on the Queenstown Lakes Proposed District Plan – Stage 2.

QLDC Recommendation Report Visitor Accommodation pdf

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is required to review their District’s Plan every 10 years. The QLDC formally commenced a review of the District’s Plan in April 2014. As part of that review the QLDC proposed numerous changes which would restrict the use of residential housing as visitor accommodation within the district.

Currently, the Operative District Plan permits any house in the Queenstown district to be let out up to 28 nights per year without registration or, if the house is registered with QLDC, 90 nights per year.

The QLDC proposed to remove the 90 night holiday home letting and apply a more restrictive approach to residential visitor accommodation within urban and rural zones with a policy direction discouraging the letting of residential properties. In relation to these proposed changes to visitor accommodation in Queenstown, Lane Neave and John Edmonds and Associates advised MajorDomo Limited, NZSIR Luxury Rental Homes Limited and Touch of Spice Limited, Queenstown’s leading luxury accommodation providers.

Lane Neave and John Edmonds and Associates sought on behalf of these luxury accommodation providers that the QLDC’s proposed changes be rejected because of a lack of credible and robust evidence for restricting visitor accommodation. We argued that provisions more aligned to the operative district plan, being less restrictive while still ensuring appropriate residential amenity is maintained, ought to apply throughout the district.

The Commissioners agreed with the luxury accommodation providers that there was a lack of justification for the QLDC’s changes restricting residential visitor accommodation within the district. Instead, the Panel recommended that residential visitor accommodation be either permitted or controlled activities (meaning resource consent must be granted) in most zones in the Queenstown District for up to 90 days within a 12 month period. 1What activity status applies depends on what zone your property is in. In those zones, for visitor accommodation exceeding 90 days, the recommendations are that generally resource consent for a controlled, restricted discretionary or discretionary activity will need to be sought. In most zones, cumulative visitor accommodation beyond 180 days will be a non complying activity. One of the objectives of the recommendations is to enable residential visitor accommodation where residential character and amenity can still be maintained. This is significantly more enabling for visitor accommodation compared to the notified provisions where prescribed criteria are met.

The Independent Commissioners’ recommendations mark a successful outcome for our clients, other residential visitor accommodation providers and the Queenstown Lakes District. While careful consideration needs to be given to appeals, we consider that compared to the QLDC’s notified provisions the recommendations strike a better balance between residential amenity in the Queenstown district, while also protecting against any reduction in the economic wellbeing of impacted home owners, local business such as the suite of luxury accommodation providers, and the wider Queenstown community.

The recommendations of the Independent Commissioners will likely be considered by QLDC for ratification on 7 March 2019. Appeals will then be able to be lodged. The new provisions providing for residential visitor accommodation will become operative and therefore, replace the operative district plan provisions once all appeals are heard and resolved on those provisions.

Given the risk of appeals to this recommendation and also the permissive status of the previous District Plan controls, there remains significant advantage to any property owners who obtained or are obtaining certificates of compliance providing for the ongoing use of the operative District Plan provisions to continue to utilise these. There have been significant delays in QLDC processing certificates of compliance due to their interpretation of the need to have all aspects of the relevant property retrospectively consented so anyone in this situation they may need to apply for retrospective consents before the certificate can be issued.

If you are in that situation you have the alternative option of putting the application on hold until any appeals on the visitor accommodation rules are resolved.

If you have any queries in respect of the use of residential properties for visitor accommodation, please contact Lane Neave and John Edmonds and Associates.

1 Smaller zones including Jacks Point, Millbrook and Waterfall Park have different provisions applying

John Edmonds and Associates

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