Interest sought for Lawrence housing project

Drivers continue to ignore speed limits coming into Lawrence. Photo ODT
New buildings can be expected in Lawrence. Photo ODT files
A rural health company hopes its planned new independent living units will allow more people to continue to live locally after retirement.

At a public meeting in Lawrence last week, members of the wider community voted yes to the construction of up to six new units in the town, valued at $1.68million in total.

The units would be built according to demand, project spokesman and Tuapeka Community Health Incorporated (TCHI) chairman Mark Hay said, and adjoin the Lawrence Rural Health Centre rest-home and medical centre on Whitehaven St.

Following the announcement, the Tuapeka health group was now seeking "firm expressions of interest" to get the project under way, he said.

"The board has been working on this concept since March 2016 when the community first floated the idea. Many of us want an option to free ourselves of the family home, its size and responsibilities at some point. Our only option right now is to move away from the district, and friends and family.

"The homes will not only fulfil a need for those wanting security, peace of mind and to free themselves of maintenance, the income generated will also help sustain our health company and [its] services ..."

Although the age of applicants and other criteria would influence eligibility for the units, precise qualifying requirements were yet to be discussed by the board, Mr Hay said.

Christchurch architectural designer Dixon Design had prepared a concept for the 81sqm, "modern, two-bedroom" units.

"We've looked across the region and researched what's feasible and how to make these homes attractive and affordable, asking ourselves along the way, `would we want to live there one day?'."

The units would be sold through an Occupation Right Agreement, and were expected to be offered at a purchase cost of $280,000, including an administration fee of 5% and a first-year fee of 8%.

"This is a pretty typical arrangement for units of this sort, and we believe makes them competitively priced among other retirement village options in surrounding areas."

Mr Hay said while the Tuapeka health group was able to support building costs so the project was self-sufficient, community fundraising would also be sought.

Early community response to the project had been "positive", and two informal expressions of interest had already been received.

Given one or more formal expressions of interest were received by an initial deadline of December 20, he hoped to see the first new residents in place by Christmas 2019.

"We're quite excited as this project will give local people a different option for remaining close to their families and friends, but in a safe and manageable environment."


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