Million-dollar Government grant for housing trust

David Cole
David Cole
It is now up to the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust to deliver its pledge of a $3.6 million affordable housing development in Arrowtown following a $1 million grant from Housing Minister Nick Smith.

Trust chairman David Cole said the next steps were to sign the contract transferring the land at 11 to 21 Suffolk St from the Queenstown Lakes District Council to the trust and to finalise detailed working drawings of the proposed 10 rental housing units, including two units for elderly residents, in association with the Arrowtown Design Group.

The trust will also maintain Arrowtown Rugby Club access to its facilities until the new sports centre on Jack Reid Park is complete. Mr Cole could not give a date when construction on Suffolk St would begin, but he said the trust had completed the last of its 27 houses in Lake Hayes Estate this week and was now able to seamlessly move on to its new project.

Less than 24 hours after the council resolved to transfer the land on the condition of Government funding, Dr Smith announced the grant from the social housing fund.

''I applaud the Queenstown Lakes District Council for transferring council land for this community social housing development,'' Dr Smith said.

''I commend the council for ignoring some vocal local nimbyism against the provision of more affordable housing in Arrowtown.''

Mark Kramer, one of several Arrowtown residents who opposed the project during the council meeting's public forum on Tuesday, said yesterday the land was ''strategically vital for future civic growth''.

''The general consensus of opinion here is it's a ludicrous decision. A huge number of ratepayers are extremely angry about it ... We don't seem to have had anything but arrogance and posturing and ... disregard for the valid opinions of ratepayers.''

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden said yesterday it was important to recognise the value the housing trust brought to the community.

Affordable housing was a major challenge for many hardworking people who were vital to the district, she said.

''I really hope that as a community we can take a breath and start to work constructively to an outcome everyone benefits from.''

Mr Cole said the grant enabled the trust to build the dwellings at a lower cost than a private developer and offer a lower rent. The trust would provide the remaining $2.6 million through borrowing.

Eligibility criteria included the tenant being a New Zealand resident and at least one member of the household being in full-time employment. Tenants may not sub-lease the property or own other property and must be in the low- to medium-income bracket, Mr Cole said.

''The onus is now on the trust to build a quality development that reflects the Arrowtown character and enhances residential street values. That's what we will deliver.''