A Wanaka family was surprised when permission to build its $20 million mansion, overlooking Lake Wanaka, was turned down by independent planning commissioners.
The Wanaka family, which applied under the name "Nature Preservation Trust", was stunned the resource consent was declined and is now considering its legal options.
Commissioners Bob Nixon and Jane Sinclair declined the application by the trust in a written decision lodged with the Queenstown Lakes District Council last Sunday.
The commissioners said the design of the easternmost portion of the above-ground part of the proposed mostly subterranean house, known as "The Sanctuary" would have adverse visual effects, which could not be overcome by the comprehensive conditions, innovative design and an extensive planting scheme offered by the family.
Trust lawyer Janice Hughes, said: "The Nature Preservation Trust represents a New Zealand family who have been Wanaka locals for many years."
"They have spent a great deal of time creating a design that is in sympathy with the environment. That has been their overarching focus in rebuilding their house so they were surprised at the decision and will now take time to consider the details before deciding on next steps," Hughes said.
Hughes would not identify her client.
The Queenstown Lakes district plan's "reasonably difficult to see" test for developments in Wanaka's outstanding natural landscape was a key issue discussed at a public hearing in May.
The proposed site for The Sanctuary is on rural land on the western outskirts of Wanaka, near Waterfall Creek.
The trust proposed to demolish a 650sq m mansion built by former aviation identity Ray Hanna in the late 1990s and build a 2027sq m house and a separate 453.96sq m garage, with 66.9 per cent of the house underground.
When viewed from public trails and the lake, the easternmost part of the three-storey, 7.8m structure would protrude above the skyline, the commissioners said.
It would not be adequately screened and would appear even more dominant than the existing two-storey house.
Replacing the existing house with a much larger one was not the main issue, they said.
The commissioners advised the part of the house extending closest to the lake shore, in combination with its height, resulted in a form of development that was inconsistent with protecting the outstanding natural landscape from inappropriate development.
The application was opposed by the Upper Clutha Environmental Society, citing adverse visual effects.
Three neighbours opposed it because they were concerned about the volume of earthworks (41,600cu m) and the years it would take to complete the build.