Worker housing bill cut

A design concept for proposed seasonal accommodation. Image from Tony Butel Design.
A design concept for proposed seasonal accommodation. Image from Tony Butel Design.
More than $605,000 has been trimmed from the potential development contribution bill to be paid if the massive seasonal worker accommodation complex at Cromwell goes ahead.

The Central Otago District Council yesterday agreed the complex on Cemetery Rd, which would cater for more than 730 seasonal workers, should incur a development contribution of $515,319. The contributions are levied to recover part of the cost of capital expenditure needed to service long-term growth.

Council's infrastructure services executive manager Julie Muir said the standard assessment of the development contribution for the project was $1,127,276. However, it was a unique, hall-of-residence style complex with shared kitchen and ablution facilities, which did not really fit into any of the categories in the council's development and financial contributions policy, she said.

Therefore, the contribution could be assessed in an alternative way, focusing on its use of wastewater and water services, Ms Muir said. Assessed that way, the figure would be $515,319.

Cr Martin McPherson asked if the developer was aware of the work which had been done to ''bring this figure down''.

''When I first read the report, I was shocked at the [higher] figure but what you've come back with is fair, I believe,' he said.

Ms Muir said the developer was aware of the variation in figures for the development contribution.

Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper said he hoped the contribution would not prove a stumbling block to the project proceeding.

Council planning and environment manager Louise van der Voort said she believed the revised figure had been canvassed in discussions between council staff and the developer ''and he is comfortable with that''.

None of the councillors spoke against the figure being reduced and the resolution was passed unanimously.

Last year, a Central Otago labour market survey found there was an acute shortage of suitable accommodation for seasonal workers during the fruit and grape harvest. It said an extra 600 beds were needed by 2018-19 to cater for predicted growth in the horticulture and viticulture industries, or the growth of those industries would be impeded.

lynda.van.kempen@odt.co.nz

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