Shotover Country Dec 2015 112 web

Editorial

Housing progress?

April 26 2022 by Paul Taylor

Housing progress?

What cost $1.4 million of your money and has so far proved about as useful as a chocolate teapot, an ashtray on a motorbike, a condom machine at the Vatican?

Queenstown Lakes District Council spent a fortune on the Ladies Mile Masterplan and councillors debated for hours over whether it should be adopted.

It was a bit hard to get your head around at the time. The council was creating a plan for 2400 homes, plus schools, community facilities and walking tracks, basically so landowners couldn’t just build another Shotover Country, with its sought-after, liveable homes, primary school and walking tracks.

Ok, so I understand the need for pockets of greater density, more community facilities and transport links, but as the masterplan process was in motion, QLDC approved the luxury Koko Ridge development on Ladies Mile. It comprises 26 sections of 2000sqm each, priced upwards of $1m. Meanwhile, the Government has fast-tracked the medium-density Flint’s Park developments, which will be up to 700 homes, including town houses, and a primary school.   

QLDC owns the huge former Walker family property along the Mile, with its house soon to be remodelled into a community centre, and has rejected Ministry approaches to build a high school there. The Ministry will presumably buy some other land nearby. I’m not sure there’s going to be much land left to masterplan, especially when the new Howard’s Drive roundabout goes in too, or whether landowners can actually be forced to follow its conditions.

That said, it feels a little harsh to give this council grief over its housing policies, as major progress has been made since Jim Boult took the mayoral chains.

At first glance, it wouldn’t appear so, would it. The median price for a house in Queenstown Lakes last month was $1.4m. That’s $284k for the 20% deposit and $2,800 in mortgage each fortnight, or a whopping $73k a year. The median house price is 12 times the annual median household income. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was three to four times.

But those are national problems, in fact, international problems. At a local level, since the Mayoral Housing Affordability Taskforce was created in 2017 hundreds of families have been able to buy sections and build in SHAs, and the supercharged relationship with the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust has seen scores more into affordable housing, through its innovative programmes and inclusionary zoning. QLCHT has years of projects planned out. Hundreds more families have been able to buy and build in Hanley’s Farm, the final stages of Shotover Country, and other subdivisions, although in some cases developers had to push their projects through the Environment Court.

As for the masterplan, at least it might act as a guide for developers, but whether it will ever have any teeth, including its eleventh-hour transport conditions, remains to be seen.

Paul Taylor
Queenstown Media Group

- Paul Taylor