PayPal founder in environmental row over luxury alpine New Zealand lodge

Opponents of the plan claim it will ‘destroy our beautiful lake environment’

Aisha Rimi
Tuesday 19 October 2021 13:07
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<p>The billionaire plans to build a luxury lodge over 193-hectares of land he owns in Wanaka, New Zealand </p>

The billionaire plans to build a luxury lodge over 193-hectares of land he owns in Wanaka, New Zealand

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Billionaire Peter Thiel is facing opposition from environmental groups due to his plans to build a luxury lodge in Wanaka, an alpine town on the southern island of New Zealand.

A company owned by the PayPal co-founder has lodged plans with the district council for a series of buildings that will sprawl over a 193-hectare site owned by Thiel on the shores of Lake Wanaka.

The various properties will include a “pod” for Thiel himself, water features and meditation space. The application describes “a series of stand-alone buildings, including a lodge for visitor accommodation for up to 24 guests, accommodation pod for the owner, together with associated lodge management buildings, infrastructure, landscape treatment, water features and meditation space.”

In total, Thiel’s plans attracted seven formal submissions to the council, either against or seeking changes to the proposal. There were none in support.

John Sutton, a local resident, said in a submission to council that the lodge would “destroy our beautiful lake environment”.

The Upper Clutha Environmental Society also held a similar view, with their submission stating that the planned works are “likely to cause significant adverse physical changes to the appearance of the natural landscape when viewed from public places”.

The Longview Educational Trust also opposed the development. They said: “No level of mitigation can satisfactorily reduce the level of adverse effects that will be created.”

In the proposal, Thiel’s company Second Star Ltd argues that the architects “have designed the proposal to blend the buildings into the undulating landscape that surrounds them”.

“All of the buildings include green roofs which extend to the ground of each end of the buildings. The green roofs are to be planted with the same range of plants (and occasional rocks) that occur on the surrounding hillock landforms.”

The official documents also argue that “the proposed lodge will create high-end accommodation in the region, whereby the economic benefits reach across the district and beyond”.

Architects Kengo Kuma and Associates, who designed the Tokyo Olympic Stadium, will also design Thiel’s property development.

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