Cromwell hous­ing a ‘big is­sue’

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - JO MCKEN­ZIE-MCLEAN

Af­ford­able hous­ing and an in­ef­fi­cient res­i­den­tial land use around Cromwell came un­der the mi­cro­scope at a may­oral candidate fo­rum.

In­cum­bent Cen­tral Otago mayor Tony Lep­per, Tim Cado­gan and Martin McPher­son faced ques­tions from Cromwell’s busi­ness com­mu­nity at a re­cent meet­ing, and did not shy away from ad­mit­ting hous­ing was a prob­lem in the area.

Ac­coun­tant David Stark said the sup­ply of land in Cromwell was a ‘‘big’’ is­sue for the Cen­tral Otago town.

‘‘We still seem to see sub­di­vi­sions re­leased close to town with a min­i­mum sec­tion size of 4000sqm which is an in­ef­fi­cient use of a scarce land re­source and it is all in­ef­fi­cient in the sense of util­i­sa­tion of in­fra­struc­ture...Rather than pro­mot­ing ur­ban sprawl, per­haps we can do this a bit more ef­fi­ciently in a way that is bet­ter for the whole com­mon com­mu­nity.’’

Lep­per said the dis­trict plan al­lowed sec­tion sizes to go down to 250sqm, and had been in the plan for the past 15 to 20 years and the coun­cil was ‘‘try­ing to lead that con­ver­sa­tion with de­vel­op­ers’’.

‘‘We have started that con­ver­sa­tion and that is the only tool we have got.’’

Martin McPher­son said good use of avail­able land for hous­ing was ’’crit­i­cal’’ with a gen­er­a­tion com­ing into retirement not want­ing big houses.

‘‘The tool we have got is the dis­trict plan and I would en­cour­age de­vel­op­ers, real­tors to come and ac­tu­ally have some in­put into that so we can make some solid changes.’’

An­nett Burgess said af­ford­able hous­ing for fam­i­lies was an is­sue, and the town’s in­fra­struc­ture was not in place to cope with more growth.

‘‘I’m hear­ing all about the rich re­tirees...What about af­ford­able hous­ing? I mean, who can af­ford $500,000 for an old house down there, and what you get? Are we go­ing to be the next Queen­stown and it is go­ing to be $750,000 to buy an old house?’’

Candidate Tim Cado­gan said the hous­ing sit­u­a­tion was ‘‘a worry’’.

‘‘Sup­ply will meet de­mand even­tu­ally and hope­fully the gov­ern­ment - the Re­serve Bank - have got the tools to take a bit of the heat out of the mar­ket. The coun­cil doesn’t re­ally, other than to try and en­cour­age de­vel­op­ers to do smaller de­vel­op­ments - but that is what the mar­ket has to tell the de­vel­op­ers.’’

‘‘Rather than pro­mot­ing ur­ban sprawl, per­haps we can do this a bit more ef­fi­ciently in a way that is bet­ter for the whole com­mon com­mu­nity.’’

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