‘Clear need’ for housing

Barbara Hanna

[email protected]

Clutha District Council may soon ramp up its residential development activity, following formal community board support.

At its meeting in Tapanui last Wednesday, the West Otago Community Board unanimously endorsed the council’s community plan for the area.

Ranked top in the plan — among six key areas of community improvement was a need for increased residential development to provide housing for newcomers.

The six focus areas were identified following community consultation earlier this year.

In his report to the board, council senior policy adviser Mike Goldsmith said residents had identified a ‘‘clear need’’ for additional housing, which could be supported by the council.

‘‘There were 326 feedback items received on the ‘opportunities for development’ focus area, which was 26% of the total.

‘‘A range of views were expressed on the type of housing required, and the best methods to deliver it.

‘‘Various suggestions were received, relating to housing types, the need to provide additional land, the need for adequate infrastructure and council’s role.’’

During earlier board meetings, members had raised the possibility of using Tapanui’s council›owned Hancox Park for development.

Mr Goldsmith said that possibility had also been a key item of feedback.

The report emphasised any council› supported project would not preclude private developments from occurring.

Council support could include carrying out improvements to essential infrastructure to open up undeveloped land; helping developers navigate council processes; development of an ‘‘urban planning guide’’; and investigation of further options, such as loan provisions.

During annual planning, the council set aside $30,000 to fund exploration of those options.

During the meeting, board chairwoman Barbara Hanna said many people were concerned a shortage of suitable housing was preventing West Otago’s continued growth.

‘‘I’m aware already of one young man who needed to find accommodation locally, couldn’t, and because of that has had to move on.

‘‘I’m worried about our generation of younger people who want to live and work in Tapanui. We don’t want to lose our people elsewhere.’’

The council will consider the board’s recommendation at its meeting on September 15.