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Consents lodged for Southern Parallel Campus

Consents lodged for Southern Parallel Campus
Southern Parallel Campus has filed resource consent application documents for stage one of its proposed Lake Hood development. SUPPLIED

A $200m development planned for Lake Hood has taken a step forward, with a resource consent application filed this month.

Southern Parallel Campus has filed consent documents with both the Ashburton District Council and Environment Canterbury for its planned equine centre.

District council compliance and development group manager Jane Donaldson confirmed the application was received on November 7 and is being assessed by planning staff.

“Under the RMA, the council has 20 working days to make a decision on notification,” she said.

Five resource consents applications were also lodged with Environment Canterbury on November 13.

Fronted by project director Catherine Stuart, the 65ha of land next to Lake Hood is now planned to be developed into an international standard equine stud and equestrian training centre.

Stage two will be the SPC Life Skills and Education Centre, the foundation of the project, which will be built on a separate site.

Stuart declined to comment on the active consent process.

According to the consent documents, the equine centre will feature an indoor selling arena, veterinary clinic, 650 stables, training arenas and fields for show jumping, dressage, eventing, and polo training, and grazing pastures.

In terms of timelines, it was hoped to have the consent process completed in early 2024 to allow construction to start later in the year, for a planned opening in the second half of 2025.

The project is estimated to create 850 jobs during construction, and once fully operational, will employ 160 people.

Stage two, which will cater to physically disabled veterans, service personnel, and para-athletes, is planned to be completed by mid-2026 and will be subject to a separate consent process.

On social media, Stuart posted that it had been a “long stressful journey, with project pivots to meet the myriad of policies, rules and regulations to achieve the final go-ahead to put shovel to ground and deliver opportunity and benefits to the region”.

The project was officially launched in September 2019, with plans to start construction in 2020 and to be open in the first quarter of 2021.

Covid put an end to that ambitious timeline.

A Covid recovery fast-track consent application was then submitted to the Ministry for Environment in December 2022, but it was rejected by former Minister for the Environment David Parker in July.

The next step was to submit the resource consent applications to the district and regional councils.

Now that has been done, an Ashburton District Council planning officer will inspect the site and prepare a report that recommends whether to process the consent as non-notified or notified, and whether or not it should be approved or refused.

Donaldson said an independent commissioner has been appointed to consider the application and make a decision on notification, hear any submissions if required, and make a decision approving or declining the application.

Of the five resource consents with ECan, one is for its onsite wastewater system and the others are related to the initial site works.

ECan consents planning manager Aurora Grant said that due to the scale and significance of the proposal, ECan has extended the RMA timeframes and the proposal is being assessed for completeness.

"A decision to accept the application for processing or return the application will be made by December 11."

By Jonathan Leask