Care facility on fast-track

An artist’s impression of a proposed retirement village in Wanaka. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
An artist’s impression of a proposed retirement village in Wanaka. IMAGE: SUPPLIED
Plans for a Wanaka retirement village expected to create 700 jobs during construction are being fast-tracked under special Covid-19 legislation.

The Northbrook Wanaka Retirement Village project is being developed by Winton Property Ltd and would be constructed on a vacant residential section alongside Outlet Rd at the northern end of the Northlake subdivision.

The project would include a 100-unit retirement village, a private 36-bed hospital care home (including memory care), a clubhouse incorporating a cafe and community centre, and a recreation building featuring a gym and swimming pool.

In his reasons for referring the project for the fast-tracking consent process Environment Minister David Parker said the project would provide up to 700 jobs during construction in an area "significantly affected by a reduction in international tourists".

It would contribute to the public benefit by providing additional housing supply for aged persons and aged-care facilities and it would "progress faster" than if the company sought consent through the Resource Management Act standard processes, he said.

Winton spokeswoman Sonya Fynmore said as well as the 700 construction jobs, the project would create a further 38 operational jobs when finished .

In its application, the proximity of Northlake to the landlocked Sticky Forest plantation was raised.

Sticky Forest is part of the Hawea/Wanaka Substitute Land Settlement being held by the Crown until the descendants of the original owners are identified.

Winton chief executive Chris Meehan said, “As directed by the minister, Winton is working constructively with the owners of Sticky Forest to provide them vehicular access."

He said, "Like most Wanaka residents, we love Sticky Forest, so it’s important to note this may not result in the development of Sticky Forest as their planning consents are subject to many other external factors.”

Winton projects not accepted for fast-tracking in the region included Arrowtown Retirement Village and a 751-lot subdivision near Cromwell, which was previously rejected by the Central Otago District Council.

Mr Meehan said they were disappointed at the minister’s decision.

"The Lakes district economy is staring into the abyss, the very thing required is investment into infrastructure, other than tourism," Mr Meehan said.

"If the minister granted these two other consents, it would have resulted in an immediate investment of $777 million into the district, creating 3378 jobs during the development phase and 460 permanent jobs long into the future."

Ms Fynmore said they hoped to lodge the final application for the "Northbrook Wanaka Retirement Village" project with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) by the end of next week.

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