Rethink the re­gion’s hous­ing cri­sis

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - JANIENE BAYLISS

I have been a prop­erty owner and land­lord in the Cromwell re­gion pro­vid­ing a rea­son­ably-priced long term house rental on my vine­yard in the Pisa area for many years. This has pro­vided me with a valu­able in­sight into the ac­com­mo­da­tion needs of peo­ple in the area.

I read with con­sid­er­able in­ter­est the mayor’s ar­ti­cle, Match­ing Sup­ply and De­mand

( Mir­ror, March 22) and I be­lieve there are wider is­sues to be in­ves­ti­gated, iden­ti­fied, dis­cussed and taken into ac­count to ef­fect mean­ing­ful im­prove­ments to the present ac­com­mo­da­tion cri­sis.

The wider Cen­tral Otago hous­ing mar­ket in­volves a range of ac­com­mo­da­tion needs. AirBnB, Book­abach and the like serve the tourism and hol­i­day mar­kets. Many tourists want the deeper and richer ex­pe­ri­ence pro­vided by this model and we need to em­brace this en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. I don’t be­lieve th­ese re­move longer term rentals from the mar­ket or in­crease long term rental costs. Those work­ing in the re­gion want­ing ac­com­mo­da­tion have dif­fer­ent re­quire­ments.

Many towns and cities around the world have faced rapid growth and ne­glected in­fra­struc­ture and ad­e­quate plan­ning to meet com­mu­nity needs. We can learn from their suc­cesses. Mixed hous­ing with apart­ments, at­tached and de­tached houses, cou­pled with a fo­cus on com­mu­nity and sus­tain­able living, lo­cal parks and al­lot­ment style veg­etable gar­dens pro­vide af­ford­able op­tions for a wide range of peo­ple and a richer, more in­ter­est­ing sub­ur­ban land­scape.

At present, we strug­gle to prop­erly un­der­stand what ac­com­mo­da­tion is re­quired and fall back on old stereo­types; sub­di­vi­sions with de­tached houses and work­ers’ ac­com­mo­da­tion in bar­rack style build­ings. Th­ese are dis­tant from shops and have lit­tle or no trans­port in­fra­struc­ture so ev­ery­one be­comes re­liant on the fam­ily car. The re­sult is soul­less sub­urbs dom­i­nated by cars and the iso­la­tion that brings.

Rea­son­ably priced ac­com­mo­da­tion for work­ers has been an is­sue for more than ten years.

To say the coun­cil has very lim­ited tools to in­flu­ence things is a self-lim­it­ing po­si­tion.

The coun­cil needs a wellde­vel­oped vi­sion for the fu­ture of the re­gion and to pro­vide the lead­er­ship to en­sure all de­vel­op­ments un­der­taken lead in that di­rec­tion. It does not have to do ev­ery­thing, but it must hold the col­lec­tive fu­ture vi­sion and drive the agenda to reach it.

Ad­vo­cat­ing ever smaller sec­tions be­ing ap­proved to build on is sim­plis­tic; the is­sues are more com­plex and re­quire a much more so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach. We need to re-think the de­tached house sub­di­vi­sion model com­pletely.

Rather than mak­ing one or two peo­ple rich by carv­ing up ever smaller pieces of land, let’s fo­cus on en­rich­ing the whole com­mu­nity to build some­thing more com­pre­hen­sive.

Janiene Bayliss is co owner of Ata Mara Vine­yard.

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