700-bed housing plan for Cromwell

The style of accommodation planned.  Image by Tony Butel Design.
The style of accommodation planned. Image by Tony Butel Design.

The people behind a major Cromwell housing development, providing beds for up to 700 people, are "not far off'' filing resource consents for the project.

Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper praised the "vision and commitment'' of the developers, saying the plans would alleviate the critical shortage of seasonal worker accommodation and affordable rental accommodation in the district.

The district council has agreed to sell 7ha of industrial-zoned council land in Cemetery Rd to the developers for a multi-lot accommodation development, subject to the necessary resource consents being gained.

Mr Lepper said the developers were Queenstown-based "with experience in this sort of business''.

They preferred to remain anonymous until resource consents were lodged "and they're not far off doing that''.

A Central Otago labour market survey last year, focusing on the horticulture and viticulture industries, found an acute shortage of suitable accommodation for seasonal workers during harvest would impede the growth of those industries.

The survey revealed an extra 600 beds were needed by 2018-19 to cater for predicted growth in horticulture and viticulture.

Many seasonal workers were forced to live in tents at the Bendigo picnic area beside Lake Dunstan over the summer, which caused some controversy in January.

Mr Lepper said the Cromwell land was sold at market price; the figure was commercially sensitive.

"But I think it'll give a good return for our community.''

One of the conditions of the sale was that developers had to make "reasonable progress'' on building the accommodation part of the development within 18 months, providing a minimum of 400 beds.

Occupants of the "comfortable well-serviced rooms'' would also have communal dining, ablution and laundry facilities, he said.

The complete development would cater for up to 700 people.

The developers also had plans, yet to be revealed, for the rest of the land.

The plans would cater for the wider district.

Some orchardists around Alexandra already "trucked in'' their seasonal workforce, who had accommodation in Cromwell, Mr Lepper said.

The board and council had been working closely with the developers for months to make the project happen.

"Our district plan already allows for a diversity of housing options and we would love to talk to people who are prepared to invest in different solutions to house young couples and families.

"To have a sustainable future, Central Otago has to provide a range of modern and affordable housing options. Smaller houses and possibly apartment-type developments are obvious choices to cater for this demand, but we are not limited in any way in our thinking.

"We would really like the development community to turn their collective minds to providing these sorts of solutions and come and talk to us. Central Otago is open for business, so come and talk,'' Mr Lepper said.

The resource consent for the project will be heard and determined by an independent commissioner.

As council land was involved in the venture, the council would need to keep "at arm's length'' from the consent decision, he said.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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