Accommodation crisis threat to Queenstown

Queenstown could grind to a halt without urgent temporary staff accommodation, a veteran hotelier says.

Goldridge Resort general manager Penny Clark, a Queenstown hotel manager since the early 1990s, says the housing crisis has never been worse. 

She is calling for shipping containers, such as those used for workers who rebuilt earthquake-hit Christchurch, to be brought in to temporarily house Queenstown workers.

They could be put on the council's Lakeview site in central Queenstown, she suggested.

Ms Clark said there would not be a local hotelier who had not had to allocate a room this past summer to house homeless staff.

The problem would get worse in winter, she feared, as workers would be less likely to live in tents and cars.

‘‘The town needs to lift its game and think about a temporary solution to get us through the next few years, just like Christchurch did.''

Ms Clark was aware of developers keen to invest in container housing but said council land would need to be given to them.

If nothing was done, she said the town could almost come to a standstill: ‘‘It sounds a bit dramatic, but that's correct.''

Ms Clark said Queenstown hoteliers all believed hotel developers in future should be required to provide staff accommodation, as used to be the case.

‘‘The council took the requirement out. Everyone agrees that that was a short-sighted thing to do.''

Hoteliers had discussed leasing houses then subleasing them to staff.

But at least three hotels had given up on this because the landlord or rental agency feared parties or places being trashed.

Ms Clark recently stepped down as the Tourism Industry Association's Queenstown hotel sector chairman, but has taken on the staff accommodation portfolio.

Ms Clark admitted it was ‘‘an irony and a-half'' that she was proposing temporary housing at Lakeview, in place of ‘‘affordable'' cabins removed for the council's proposed conference centre. 

-By Philip Chandler 

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