Housing accord discussed

Vanessa van Uden
Vanessa van Uden
A meeting between Housing Minister Nick Smith and Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden on Friday to discuss a proposed housing accord for the resort was another positive step - but much remains to be done before any final decisions are made.

Dr Smith and Ms van Uden discussed the district's scheduling under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013, which aimed for the Government and council to work together to improve supply and affordability.

Ms van Uden told the Otago Daily Times after the meeting it was the ''first, initial discussion'' and while it opened the door to explore opportunities in the district to address affordability, the next step was for Queenstown Lakes to be ''scheduled''.

''[Dr Smith] is going to go away and think about the scheduling and then we [the council] have to come up with the accord.

''It's got to get scheduled first and then we explore what opportunities there are ... At the moment, it's just a discussion to say we'd be interested in being scheduled and starting the discussion.''

Scheduling was likely to take several months, she said.

Regardless of the proposed accord, Ms van Uden said it would not detract from the work or commitment of the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust, established by the council in 2007 to manage and deliver affordable housing solutions to the community.

The trust has completed a master plan development at Nerin Square, Lake Hayes Estate, which assisted more than 45 households into shared home ownership and another four into its pilot Rent Saver programme.

The trust is working on plans for future developments at Shotover Country and Suffolk St, in Arrowtown.

''We've got a problem to solve in housing our people in affordable, good houses, that are warm,'' Ms van Uden said.

''It is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to make that work.''

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Queenstown spokesman Kelvin Collins said any assistance given to address affordability issues in Queenstown Lakes was ''positive for the region''.

At present, the median house price was $664,000, but those in the market could ''buy a nice house'' for $450,000.

Part of the issue in the resort was the ''mindset''. People had to stop viewing housing as a commodity and more as an investment, he said.

A factor driving the price of housing up in Queenstown, and Wanaka, was the absence of ''an old area of town'' where people could purchase their first home at a cheaper price.

''Most areas have a south side of the railway line ... you work your way up to a nicer house,'' Mr Collins said.

''All our old houses are sitting on good sections, so there's a high land value.

''First-home buyers normally have to buy something quite new ... and expensive,'' he said.

''It's tough for them ... anything that assists people into home ownership is positive.''