Old Ladies Mile? Retirement home plan mooted


A top retirement village operator wants to build an upmarket old folks home on one of the Wakatipu’s most plum sites.

Tauranga’s Fraser Sanderson is lobbying the local council to rezone farmland on the Ladies Mile highway, between the Frankton Flats and Lake Hayes, to allow for a retirement village.

That will stop the exodus of long-time oldies, who are forced to leave the Wakatipu for care facilities elsewhere.

Sanderson - whose Sanderson Group has submitted to the council’s proposed district plan - says the 23-hectare site, above the Shotover Country subdivision, is central, flat and sizeable.

“We wanted to find a level site and as warm as we could find - old people really want warmth.”

He suggests a complex could include about 150 standalone homes and an 80-person resthome, hospital and dementia care facility. 

In October, Sanderson, 59 - who recently built a holiday home in Queenstown - told Mountain Scene that this resort is the only major town or city in NZ without a retirement village.

“You’re going to have some serious problems with the elderly and looking after them - if it’s not a problem now, it will be in 10 years’ time.”

Some plans are already afoot. Shotover Country developers Sharyn and Grant Stalker set aside a 3.9ha site for a retirement village, however an agreement with an operator was pulled early this year due to the company’s principal suffering ill health.

A 12ha Arrowtown retirement village, for up to 300 people, has been proposed beside The Hills golf course.

The council last month gave it qualified approval to proceed as a special housing area.

Sanderson says he’s been badgered by Queenstowners to establish a retirement village but till now hadn’t found a suitable site.

He says he only put in his submission at the last moment and won’t start detailed planning till the New Year.

But he believes the style of his luxury Bethlehem Shores village would suit Queenstown because of this town’s similar demographic to Tauranga.

“I don’t think it’s a Ryman Healthcare model or a Summerset model - I think Queenstown’s more suited to something a bit more boutiquey.

“Traditonally, our average home is about $650,000 so I imagine it would be around the $650,000-$700,000 mark - we would be doing fairly good-sized homes.”

Veteran local developer David Broomfield, who first proposed a retirement village on Tucker Beach Road 18 years ago, believes there’s room for three retirement villages in the Wakatipu.

He says they’d cater for not only local elderly but the parents of people moving into the Wakatipu for jobs _ “the multiplication factor is far greater than a lot of people realise”.

Commenting on Sanderson’s proposed site, Broomfield says: “As long as there’s some setback from the highway, and Jack’s Point has done that successfully, it has merit.”

NZ Transport Agency national spin doctor Andy Knackstedt didn’t dismiss the plan out of hand, saying it would consider any application as an affected party.