Is Highlands the next Western Springs? Circuit opposes subdivision plans
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With the row over the future of Western Springs seemingly resolved (admittedly in a way that's left plenty of die-hard fans waning), a story from the south concerning easily New Zealand's most picturesque race track has some similarities.
Cromwell's Highlands Motorsport Park was opened in 2013, and has played regular host to the Australian GT Championship and the popular Central Muscle Car series. Probably more to the point, the circuit hosts plenty of days for manufacturers and for local membership holders.
But now, according to the Otago Daily Times, the circuit is having to face a 900-section subdivision development on the city's outskirts that could recreate the residents-versus-venue dynamic we became all too familiar with at Western Springs.
Led by River Terrace Developments Ltd, the plan aims to change 49ha of land into houses, cafés, shops, and even a school and retirement village along State Highway 6 and Sandflat road. All of which is expected to prompt noise complaints when big Highlands race weekends roll around.
"From our point of view, it's just an entirely inappropriate use of the land," said Highlands Motorsport Park chief operating officer Josie Spillane, who spoke to the ODT yesterday.
"To have that as residential, people are going to be generally really unhappy because they are going to be subjected to different types of noise during the day, the evening, the weekends, public holidays," she said.
"We're potentially talking about 3000 unhappy neighbours, with a retirement village and a school. [...] How does that work?"
Highlands and Spillane aren't alone, either, with Central Motors Speedway also nearby. They too have approached the Central Otago District Council to oppose the plan. Public submissions are set to close on June 20.
It's an interesting one for Cromwell, which is seen by many as a 'rising star of the south' as the number of residents has boomed alongside the creation of grand facilities like Highlands Motorsport Park. Not to mention its close proximity to one of New Zealand's leading tourist destinations; Queenstown.
If it's any hope for Highlands, noise concerns around Western Springs wasn't the ultimate reason for its closure as a racing facility — the RFA and New Zealand Cricket quite fancied the idea of turning it into a cricket venue.