Peter Thiel’s New Zealand lodge should be rejected, says the council planner

Peter Thiel has properties all over the world, but a New Zealand luxury lodge proposal may not be realized.

Marco Bello | Getty Images

The future of Peter Thiel’s luxury lodge in New Zealand’s South Island hangs in the balance after a senior planner from the local council said the tech billionaire’s development should be rejected for environmental reasons.

In a 978-page report released Monday, Sarah Gathercole, a senior planner at Queenstown Lakes District Council, recommended refusing planning permission as the lodge will “negatively affect” the quality and character of the landscape.

“These negative effects cannot be adequately mitigated,” he said. “While the proposal will have some positive effects, I believe it does not constitute a (enough) positive effect on the environment to offset or fully offset the negative effects on the environment.”

plans for the complex, published by the Council last September, showing several buildings on the shores of scenic Lake Wanaka. The city of Wanaka is home to just over 10,000 people and is surrounded by locations that were used to shoot “Lord of the Rings”, a trilogy of films that Thiel is known to be particularly fond of.

The images in the plans, designed by Tokyo Olympic Stadium architect Kengo Kuma and Associates, show a private residential building built on a hill and a larger luxury lodge with enough space for 24 people. There is also a separate meditation capsule, several water features and a building in the back.

The so-called owner’s cabin has a spa, pool, theater room, office and three bedrooms, while the guest cabin has its own spa and pool, as well as a library and 10 bedrooms with uninterrupted views facing north towards Lake Wanaka and the Southern Alps.

Kengo Kuma and Associates said the goal was to “design organic architecture that blends with the landscape” and respects indigenous nature.

But Gathercole said the proposal is “of a far greater scale than could reasonably be expected within the rural area and exceptional natural landscape.”

Three environmental groups opposed the plans while three others tried to change them.

Julian Haworth, secretary of the Upper Clutha Environmental Society, who opposed the plans, told CNBC last year that the lodge would be “highly visible” from area trails and Lake Wanaka itself.

“The proposed buildings extend laterally into the landscape for 330 meters and will be highly visible from the Te Araroa runway and Lake Wanaka, both of which are popular public viewpoints,” he said. “The company has no problem with the applicant building a large but carefully positioned residence on the site, but the proposed scale of development is outrageous.”

A representative of Thiel, which he co-founded PayPal Other Palantir and supported Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, he did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Thiel’s love for New Zealand

Thiel, one of the first investors in Facebook and a friend of Elon Musk, bought the estate in 2015 for $ 13.5 million through an Auckland-based company he owns called Second Star Limited.

In 2017 it emerged that Thiel had been granted citizenship by the New Zealand government. It led to a public reaction from local citizens, who accused him of having quietly acquired citizenship.

Located in relative seclusion away from the largest population centers in the world, New Zealand has become a popular destination with high net worth individuals in recent years. billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page was granted residence early last year.

Home to some 5 million people, the country has been pronounced with “preppers,” those seeking to prepare for catastrophic events that could pose a threat to humanity. Today there is also a website dedicated to people who want to prepare their families for “survival” in New Zealand.

relationships he had suggested that Thiel was planning to build some sort of apocalypse-proof bunker on his 193-hectare (477-acre) estate in Wanaka, which is currently used as a farm. Although some of the buildings appear to be built on the slopes of the hills, it is unclear whether any of them are intended to serve as a bunker.

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