A Wanaka environmental campaigner is gearing up to fight a billionaire's plan to build a luxury lodge on the shores of Lake Wanaka.
It has been 10 years since the Upper Clutha Environmental Society and the Wanaka Residents Association stopped controversial plans for six houses at Damper Bay by Auckland businessmen Craig Heatley and Trevor Farmer, and Mark Taylor, of Queenstown.
Now, society president Julian Haworth wants to stop a new application to develop the 193ha block by current owners Peter Thiel and Matt Danzeisen.
"We stopped the Auckland rich-listers. Great. Now we've got to take on an even richer person," he said yesterday.
Former residents association chairman Graham Dickson said he would be "very surprised" if the application was granted.
"I've only seen the picture in the ODT.
"It sounds a fairly major development, perhaps bigger than the original one."
Thiel, a United States technology businessman, was granted New Zealand citizenship in 2011, despite having only spent 12 days in the country. His Wanaka property has been reported to be a possible "preppers paradise" for rich Americans fleeing doomsday scenarios to live in underground bunkers in New Zealand.
Thiel's company Second Start Ltd bought the farm and the right to build one house in 2015, several years after the previous owner, Damper Bay Estates Ltd, dropped an Environment Court appeal against the Queenstown Lakes District Council's refusal of resource consent.
Plans lodged at the council on Tuesday show a 10-room luxury lodge, several low-lying grass-roofed buildings and a separate owners' building.
"I think they are dressing it up as visitor accommodation," Haworth said.
"A meditation centre? Bollocks."
In his opinion, the proposed meditation and wellbeing centre was an attempt to secure a much larger development than the one turned down by council commissioners Trevor Shiels and Leigh Overton in 2011.
The society's first move would be to meet, assess the application and request a site visit, he said.
Haworth felt the development would struggle to comply with tough district plan rules for outstanding natural landscapes and the test of "reasonably difficult to see".
"Ask yourself. Are they going to have lake views? Yes. So then, will it be visible from the lake? Yes," he said.
The previous application by Damper Bay Estates Ltd drew 110 opponents, including the Environmental Defence Society, which takes on nationally significant environment cases.
Visibility of development in an outstanding natural landscape was a major reason why the previous application was rejected.
At the time, Auckland architect Pete Bossley gave evidence that any house built at Damper Bay would have to meet unusually strict and unique design controls.
Mr Thiel's application was designed by Architects Kengo Kuma & Associates, the company which designed the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
Plans show the building merging into the landscape.
Council spokesman Sam White said the development would not be fast-tracked under Covid-19 economic recovery legislation.
The applicant had requested the application be publicly notified for submissions.
It was likely that would happen within 20 working days, unless further information was required, White said.