Council boosts support for 'Kaibuild' housing

Following a successful start to its residential development project in Kai
Following a successful start to its residential development project in Kai tangata, the Clutha District Council now plans to double housing output in the town. Pictured at the inaugural ‘‘Kaibuild’’ site last August are (from left) builder Mark Van Asperen, Kaitangata Promotions Group secretary Joyce Beck, Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan and project driver Evan Dick. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Kaitangata could have as many as 40 new homes built during the next five years, thanks to a boost in council support.

During its meeting in Balclutha yesterday, the Clutha District Council voted unanimously to support a doubling of its "Kaibuild" affordable housing project, following an appeal from community drivers.

The increase - from an estimated three to four new builds a year to as many as eight - could lead to as many as 40 new homes priced in the $300,000 to $400,000 range by 2024, project leader and Kaitangata Promotions Group member Evan Dick told the meeting.

That would "transform" the town of 750 people, and add to the growing pride already generated by multiple community development projects either under way or completed, he said.

In a report to the council, chief executive Steve Hill said the proposal would double the council's current approval to build one house at a time on council land, subject to pre-approval by Kaitangata Promotions and strict financial arrangements.

The conditions included a bank pre-approval for the eventual buyer's purchase of the land and construction of a home.

The council would then step in as developer, providing a turnkey house and land package to the buyer at minimal council risk.

West Otago ward councillor John Herbert said he "100% supported" the project.

"This is a low-risk solution to an acknowledged problem in the district, and could act as a model for other towns."

Balclutha ward councillor Ken Payne raised concerns over preferential treatment for Kaitangata.

"I applaud what they're doing down there. But as a governance issue, does the whole district have an equal opportunity here, or just Kaitangata?"

Mr Hill said the project was aligned with council objectives, as it was driven by a community group rather than a private developer.

Similar future proposals made by other parts of the district would receive equal consideration.

Although the initial council Kaibuild project was only just coming to fruition, interest in the town generated by global media attention for the project when it was first announced in May 2016 had led to five further private new builds, Mr Dick said.

"Every house is occupied. The preschool is full, and we've got people queuing up. We're very grateful for council's support of this project."

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