Council declines olive leaf-shaped parish centre application

A planned olive leaf-shaped parish centre in Arrowtown has been rejected by council commissioners.

After a public hearing, Queenstown Lakes District Council commissioners found the “Olive Leaf” building, which would double as a community centre, was a remarkable design and made some positive contributions to heritage character in the town.

It would also have positive effects for the church’s congregation and the community, the commissioners found.

However, these positive aspects would not outweigh its adverse effects, they said.

These included concerns about the proposed building’s scale, form and layout, which would detract from Arrowtown’s heritage character and streetscape and the adjacent historic St Patrick’s Church and its setting.

The “simple, aesthetic, open landmark qualities” of the site the church would share with and the olive leaf-shaped building would be significantly modified.

The cumulative effects would be more than minor, the commissioners decided.

The proposed building was also contrary to key objectives and policies of the Queenstown Lakes District Council’s operative and proposed district plans, the commissioners said.

It would breach standards relating to building bulk and location, noise, earthworks, transport, car parking and landscaping.

The Gaudi-inspired design with its floating, leaf-shaped roof has divided opinion within and outside Arrowtown for the past two years.

The Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, which owns the land, liked design. Their view was echoed by over 200 people who said the new building would benefit the community be providing more public space.

However, over 150 submissions opposed the design. Many people said they were concerned it was too modern and out of character with the church site and its heritage surrounds.

After the news of the commissioner’s decision was released, one of the groups against the design said its members were relieved by what they hoped would be the conclusion to a “particularly long process”.

“The Arrowtown community has spoken and the commissioners have heard their concerns about the ongoing protection of the historic management zone,” a statement from the group said.


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