Queenstown realtor says only way is up

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The spokesman for local realtors hopes a new housing accord will allow affordable high-rise units in central Queenstown.

The Government last week announced it’s adding Queenstown to its Housing Accords and Special Areas Act legislation.

The Act, passed last year, is aimed at helping districts with housing affordability problems.

The Government and Queenstown Lakes District Council will now jointly draft an accord which is likely to look at improving affordability by fast-tracking the supply of housing.

Kelvin Collins, spokesman for the Queenstown branch of the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand, welcomes the proposed accord.

“A lot of Queenstown is suffering now from young families struggling to live in the area and it’s mainly because the rents have gone up.

“And rents have gone up because there’s been a lack of supply of rental accommodation.”

Collins says the accord the Government struck with the Auckland council has allowed fast-tracking of well-planned housing without fear of appeals.

“Queenstown planning in the past has been affected by commercial greed and NIMBYism [not in my backyard] affecting good town planning.”

Collins hopes the accord will allow high-rise one- and two-bedroom apartments in central Queenstown around common-space green areas.

“At the moment, we can only go a maximum two levels high – we should be going four to six levels against hill faces.”

Collins says high-rise units will allow cheaper entry-level housing than the traditional three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on a section.

“You can build high-rise economically therefore you can rent it at a cheaper level than what we’re getting now.

“You might still have a 3000 square metre park in the middle of all those units where kids can play.”

Hospitality workers, many of whom don’t have vehicles, will also be happy to live in one- or two-bedroom units which they can walk to work from, Collins suggests.

Collins says the accord could also override council’s restrictive carparking rules.

“Under the current rules, we’re building apartments for vehicles that people don’t have.

“If we can get them living in town so that they don’t need to use [congested] Frankton Road, isn’t that good for everybody as well?”

Asked where high-rise would be suitable, Collins says it would be perfect in the Lakeview site, off Man Street, which council’s earmarked for its proposed convention centre.

Suitable sites beyond that include Thompson St and Lomond Crescent, he says.

Gorge Road could also be suitable – “but is it a good environment to live in when it’s so bloody cold?”

Some of Hallenstein St could also go high-density, he says.