Cromwell housing a ‘big issue’
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.’’