Co-housing plan called courageous

Dunedin's first proposed co-housing development has received mass support from submitters.

Supporters say the development is courageous and far-sighted, puts Dunedin at the forefront of fostering innovative housing solutions and will inspire other cities to follow in its footsteps.

However, the plan does have its detractors, some of whom are concerned the development could become a slum or look like tenements.

Fifty-four submissions were received on the application from Urban Co-housing Otepoti for consent to build the 26-unit co-housing neighbourhood on the site of the former High Street School.

Co-housing is a combination of private homes and shared common spaces, such as gardens, and facilities such as kitchen and dining areas.

The proposal has been developed by a group of about 12 Dunedin families who bought the site with a view to building a shared community.

Members have previously said all members would share in the design and operation of the development, but each dwelling would have its own title and people would not share finances.

In submissions to the Dunedin City Council, supporters hailed as forward-thinking the proposal, which is modelled on a similar community in Auckland called Earthsong.

It is proposed to also involve a social housing element, and seek investors who would buy a house and rent it at a low rent to families who could otherwise not afford to buy one of the houses.

Supporters said the project would have great social and environmental benefits for Dunedin.

It was well-considered, homes would be well insulated and energy efficient, it was close to the city and shops, encouraged use of active and public transport and fitted the council's moves to reduce urban sprawl and encourage more medium-density central city housing and sustainable communities, they said.

Several of the submitters came from outside Dunedin, including one Christchurch woman who said she and her family would move back to Dunedin to live in such a development.

''The concept is extremely attractive and efficient,'' Nicola Roberts said.

''The modern, passive housing, a close community, intergenerational, diverse and skilled residents from a mix of socioeconomic situations, the better use of resources and being inner city are all factors we like and would consider investing in.

''We have been looking for a year at Dunedin's housing and much of the stock is old and cold. We also want to be active in the city and part of a healthy community that brings our experience, business and commerce back to a city we love.''

She also had friends, all with resources and skills, who had said they would consider moving to Dunedin for the same reasons, she said.

Four submitters opposed the development, citing concerns about design, density, noise, the location of communal facilities, increased traffic and pressure on parking, the removal of trees around the site, the conflict with the heritage status of the area and a decrease in the general tranquillity of the area.

A neighbour, Louvain Johnston, said she had supported the idea, but was ''horrified'' when she saw the plans.

''I did not expect the view from my home to be of a solid row of the back of seven, three-storey homes very close to the street. It looks like a tenement.''

A date is to be set for a hearing before a councillor panel, which, through the resource consent process, will consider the scale of the development, whether the infrastructure could handle it and effects on neighbours, before deciding whether to consent.

debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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