Retiree’s land hunch could pay off after rezoning

John and Mary Kidston on their Wakari land, which may soon be open for residential development....
John and Mary Kidston on their Wakari land, which may soon be open for residential development. PHOTO: CHRISTINE O’CONNOR
A retired Dunedin builder’s hunch may have paid off as rezoning developments open space for more than 60 homes on his property.

Two and a-half years ago John Kidston bought 6ha in Helensburgh, an investment he thought might not mature in his lifetime.

The retired builder saw potential in the land despite the Dunedin City Council at the time saying it was unfit for building.

When Mr Kidston looked at the front page of the Otago Daily Times yesterday he learned his hunch was likely to reward him sooner than expected.

Yesterday, the council announced potential sites for residential development, with a large portion of the rezoning planned for Helensburgh which includes his parcel of land in Wakari Rd.

The decision could unlock land for about 970 houses in the next decade.

Mr Kidston reckoned the decision — if it is approved following an appeal period — could allow between 60 and 70 houses to be built on his land.

The land had been up for sale for "quite a while" before he bought it, as it was not viable for much aside from livestock or baleage, he said.

But when he visited the land he recognised its value and snapped it up as a long-term investment.

Initially the council told him there was "no way" he could build anything on the site, he said.

He disagreed and was willing to bet his money on it.

"I was a builder before I retired and I could see what it was going to be like in years to come."

He expected it to take about 10-20 years for rezoning to happen in the area, an investment he was prepared to pass on to his children.

The speed at which it turned around was "the biggest surprise", he said.

It was the family’s first subdivision and he did not know how much he expected to make.

His four children were also involved in the deal.

His wife’s family had been in the area for more than 100 years and the subdivision would be somewhat of a legacy for the family.

He wanted the subdivision to be high quality and environmentally friendly, similar to recent developments in Mosgiel.

"These subdivisions last forever."

"You want to make it really good for when you pass on."

He had mainly used the site for baleage, but had let a young neighbour run livestock on the land in the past.

Other areas announced for rezoning developments include Portobello, Kenmure, Sunnyvale, Concord and Mosgiel.

An appeal period for the greenfields rezoning in the city ends on March 21.