Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's deputy chief of staff

Sam Neill's plans upset neighbours

Sam Neill says he intends selling part of the property to finance building a house for his family on the remainder. Photo / NZPA
Sam Neill says he intends selling part of the property to finance building a house for his family on the remainder. Photo / NZPA

Upset locals opposing a housing development by movie star Sam Neill will find out next week whether their mountain views and idyllic lifestyle will be disturbed.

A town planner says the Jurassic Park actor's resource consent to subdivide a 25ha Central Otago plot should be refused because it would "degrade the arcadian pastoral character of the site".

The land on Fitzpatrick Rd in the suburb of Dalefield sits beside the Shotover River and looks out on to the Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

Neill, who lives at a different property in the area, owns the land with lawyer David Brent and friend Felicity Oxnevad, who works for his winery Two Paddocks, near Clyde in Central Otago. The group purchased the property in 1997 for $600,000 and it is now valued at $2.95 million.

In an email, Neill told the Weekend Herald that he hoped to build a home for his family and sell off the other section.

He refused to answer questions about the neighbours' concerns. "This is really not a story ... It just amounts to a lot of land, 50 acres, and I'd like to sell off one day 10 acres - another large section - to finance the small house I'd like to build there for ourselves. One day."

The next-door neighbours to the site, Jane and Evan Bloomfield, objected because one of the houses was too close to their home, and would block their view of the Remarkables and devalue their home.

In a letter starting "Dear Sam", Mrs Bloomfield wrote: "Evan and I have concerns with the proximity of one of the houses to our home. Given the size of the property, it seems unfortunate that this second site is so close ... This is our home and we plan to live here for the rest of our lives, then hand our property on to our children. We feel somewhat surrounded by existing and proposed developments in a rural setting we have come to love and cherish."

They said moving the home west would protect views and "hopefully diminish neighbourhood noise and light pollution". The Bloomfields did not want to comment further when contacted by the Weekend Herald.

Adonica Giborees, a town planner who prepared a report for the Queenstown Lakes District Council, said the proposed houses would be visible from four surrounding roads.

"The proposed development ... would not protect and enhance landscape values, due to the location ... being visually prominent and thus degrading the arcadian pastoral character of the site.

"The proposed development in its current form is likely to compromise the open character of the site and adjacent outstanding natural feature of the Shotover River."

A spokesman for the council said that private commissioners were expected to make a decision by Thursday next week.

Neill is in the New York, filming the pilot for a CBS drama, The Ordained, which centres on a man who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer to prevent his politician sister from being assassinated. Neill will play the character's father, a former Governor of New York and failed presidential candidate.

- NZ Herald

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