Fernhill ‘dog box’ prompts cabin fever


A ‘dog box’ holiday park cabin plonked outside a Fernhill rental home is a signal landlords can run riot, say residents.

Queenstown’s council has signed off on the move.

But homeowners near the new Fernhill Road site of the relocated Lakeview cabin say it should never have been allowed.

They fear the ‘sleepout’ sets a precedent that the council will allow acceptable standards of accommodation to plummet amid a severe rental and housing crunch.

Alastair McLay, who lives nearby, says: “The cabin is a dog box.

“Rotting timbers, etc. It looks bloody terrible.

“Everyone around is going ‘oh my God’.

“If this an example of the [council’s] new high-density housing, God help us.”

McLay and his neighbours have complained to the council.

House owner Bob Tovey, of Cromwell, says the cabin stands out “like dogs’ balls” because it’s not finished.

The 32 square metre cabin is currently on stilts at the front of a section occupied by the other house.

Council district plan boss Matthew Paetz says, yes, it’s acceptable.

“In general, adding sleepouts to existing dwellings is considered a flexible and low-impact option to provide housing,” he says.

It’s permitted under the district plan and the only reason the cabin needed consent was because it was being moved.

“It’s an ancillary use to an existing dwelling; it is not ‘high-density housing’ in any sense.”

Tovey also owned the cabin at Lakeview.

He’s rambunctious in defence of the move.

“I totally agree at the moment it stands out like dogs’ balls because it hasn’t had anything done to it.

“You’ve got to allow someone to finish a project before you start jumping up and down.”

Tovey says the cabin will be painted, a deck added, plus shade sails, a garden and a fence.

“You won’t even know it’s there.”

Tovey says he’s been moving properties around Central Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown for 15 years and always gets grief before projects are finished.

He’d hoped to have it finished before the Christmas break but things dragged on with council.

He says he’s owned the cabin - unoccupied, till finished - for a long time and thought it was “like living in Zimbabwe” for the council to kick him off Lakeview.

He doubts other landlords will follow suit as it’s cost $10,000 to get consent and the project will cost at least another $40,000.

Henrik de Blij, whose firm Rent A Room Ltd manages Tovey’s house, says they never overcrowd.

Tovey adds: “It’s not going to be a slum, I’m not a slum lord.”