The marketing of sections in a newly approved subdivision on Queenstown's Mt Dewar Station is likely to start by next winter, its backer says.

Independent commissioners have granted resource consent to Treespace Queenstown Ltd for a 55-lot subdivision on the former Crown-owned farm.

Billed as the country's largest commercially funded native reforestation project, it features 43 cabins and 10 chalets for residential and visitor accommodation, and a lodge for 20 overnight guests.

Treespace director Adam Smith said it was "amazing the commissioners have backed something that has a long-term outcome with a environmental ambition".


The next step was to refine the project's infrastructure design to allow accurate costings.

The marketing of the first lots was likely to start in the first half of next year.

"There are a handful of titles that the land already had consent for, so they could conceivably be delivered within 12 to 24 months of starting construction."

The remaining lots would be released over a 10-year period.

Treespace aims to generate enough revenue from section sales to cover the costs of buying the station, the staged planting of more than 140,000 native trees and the ongoing management and maintenance of the 1768ha property.

The application was the subject of a Queenstown Lakes District Council consent hearing in September. The council's planning report recommended it be refused.

In their decision, accompanied by 41 pages of conditions, commissioners Bob Nixon, Jane Taylor and Wendy Baker said ecological restoration of the property would provide a "major potential benefit" for the district in the long term, and improve public access.

The tree planting programme was "realistic and achievable'', and would provide effective screening of roads and buildings after seven to 10 years.


In assessing the proposal, the council had "erred'' by failing to adequately consider the proposal's ecological benefits.

"We consider the current application is comprehensive and has been thoroughly prepared, and that with appropriate conditions, the benefits clearly outweigh any short and medium-term adverse effects.''

The decision, which was released on Monday, has a 30-day deadline for appeal.

Smith said the decision was comprehensive and "diligent'' in addressing opponents' concerns.

"We hope they would be satisfied that it's gone through a rigorous process, and don't see the need to take it further.''

The long list of conditions ensured the project team's intentions were "hard-coded'' into the consent, he said.