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Silverlight Studios has won conditional support for its $280million film studio development from environmental lobby group the Upper Clutha Environmental Society.
Society secretary Julian Haworth’s submission to a specialist hearing panel seeks landscape and building conditions and suggests the applicants foot 50% of the costs of building a cycle track to the site.
The Silverlight Studios team is Weta Digital veteran Mike Wallis, double Oscar nominee Ra Vincent (The Hobbit and Jojo Rabbit) and film accountant Jonathan Harding.
Ministry for the Environment appointee Judge Lawrie Newhook has appointed an independent panel to consider Silverlight’s fast track resource consent application under Covid-19 economic recovery legislation.
The Environmental Protection Authority administers the panel fast track process.
The studios are planned for Corbridge Farm, near Wanaka Airport.
“The society in general supports the Silverlight application because the social and economic benefits that will accrue to the district, especially in terms of employment and economic diversity, far outweigh adverse landscape effects,” the society’s submission says.
“The society notes that the economic impact assessment report states that construction of the studio may well create ‘just under 2300 jobs sustained annually over the medium term’.”
Mr Haworth said a 35-house subdivision had already been consented at Corbridge Farm “which itself will have significant adverse effects on landscape values”.
The society was assuming consent would be surrendered, he said.
However, it still had reservations about the mass and scale of the development and impacts on outstanding natural landscape and the Clutha River corridor.
It wanted the hearing panel to consider these issues, he said.
Silverlight’s proposal includes two public walking and cycling tracks in compensation for closing parts of public paper roads.
Mr Haworth said the society strongly supported that idea but warned of an expected increase in traffic volume on State Highway 6.
He suggested the developer could create a dedicated cycleway beside the highway from the West Coast junction at Mt Iron, to the site entrance.
This would not just be a line painted on the highway — it would be used by the whole community and Silverlight could offer to finance 50%, he said.
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