Interview: Jo Fyfe – Wanaka Town Planner
Building your dream home or holiday home is high on the agenda for a number of my clients. Last year I sold a variety of sections ranging from $260,000 for land in a new subdivision in Hawea, right through to a $1,725,000 section with 360 degree views of Lake Wanaka and surrounding mountains.
No matter what size of property they are looking at purchasing, potential owners can often require specialist help to determine exactly what they could achieve with a particular piece of land. We are lucky to have town planner Jo Fyfe on hand here in Wanaka – I simply pass on her details to my clients and leave them to it. Jo works for JEA a Queenstown based planning firm and her work has been invaluable for a number of my clients.
If you are considering buying suitable land and or possibly subdividing land with the Proposed District Plan taking effect, I highly recommend her services.
I caught up with Jo late last year and had a chance to get her take on her work and all things Wanaka. Enjoy!
How long have you been involved within JEA in Central Otago and the wider town planning field?
I set up the JEA office in Wanaka at the start of 2017, so one year. Prior to this I was the Team Leader of the Resource Consents team in Queenstown, when I moved down from Auckland. I have been a town planner for 12 years both in NZ and a stint in the UK.
In your words what services are typically requested?
Generally resource consent applications including subdivisions from land owners and developers, and advising on development potential of sites. We are typically the ‘go-to’ for all things town planning, so can get some interesting requests.
Are there other services that JEA offer, that property owners and or prospective purchasers do not know about?
I have recently been undertaking due diligence for prospective purchasers in regard to development potential of sites, and breaking down and advising on the development opportunities under the Proposed District Plan vs. the Operative District Plan.
What is the most rewarding part of your role with JEA?
Being able to walk to work! And to look out the window at Treble Cone and Black Peak. And also to assist land owners and prospective purchasers realise and achieve the current and future potential of their land.
Is there any significant changes forthcoming that property owners and or purchasers should be aware of?
The District Plan (development ‘rule book’ for the district) is currently being reviewed, as the rules are 15 years old, which will intensify some areas of Wanaka, and encourage development in the right way, to facilitate the growth we are experiencing. The first stage of the Proposed District Plan comes into effect in the first quarter of 2018 which could be a significant change for some sites and suburbs around the district.
In addition, the Special Housing Area (SHA) legislation has recently been approved by the Council to extend to Wanaka. The aim of this is to enhance housing affordability by facilitating an increase in land and housing supply. The application of this means that some zonings in the Proposed District Plan are targeted for increased density, that could achieve residential developments over and above what the Operative and Proposed District Plans provide for. It is unclear whether the new Government will carry this legislation through the next three years however.
What advice would you give potential property purchasers looking to secure their ideal property?
Ensure that you undertake your due diligence for the property to realise the full potential of the land that you’re looking to invest in.
Does Wanaka differ from other NZ regions for your line of work? If so, how so?
Yes definitely. I arrived down to the district from Auckland where the typical development is urban and in some areas, provision for far more dense development than Wanaka allows for, so there are very different considerations in urban vs. rural vs. small-town developments.
The Queenstown district is a very litigious environment, where there is so much at stake both financially to landowners and in regards to protecting this incredible landscape and environment, so there are some very real considerations that come into play in Wanaka that you wouldn’t ordinarily need to address.
Best place to get coffee in Wanaka?
Our office! Other than that Fedeli, at Federal Diner.
What is Wanaka best kept secret?
Our secluded camping spot at Emerald Bluffs – gazing out onto heavenly Paddock Bay, covered in kanuka, with a public BBQ close to the lakefront, pondering life – bliss!
Best advice for people moving to Wanaka?
Just do it. You will not regret it. The only downfall of living in Wanaka is that there is nowhere to move to afterwards, because nothing compares.
It’s 10am on a Sunday morning, where would we find you and what are you doing?
Either exploring somewhere remote in the mountains in my hiking boots and a pack on my back, relaxing on the lake in the boat, or walking my dog up Mount Iron after a delicious social brunch.
Favourite time of year in Wanaka and why?
Summer – because you can get as much boating, trail running, wakeboarding, swimming, rock climbing, biking, hiking, camping as you can achieve in this epic landscape.