School site eyed as housing fix


The government is investigating if the Wakatipu High School site could be used for worker accommodation and affordable housing.

Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay and Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith visited the Gorge Road site yesterday, to assess its suitability for intensive development.

Smith says there’s a possibility the Crown Land Programme, which has freed up Crown-owned land for residential development in Christchurch and Auckland, could be extended to Queenstown – and Wakatipu High is being considered.

“I don’t want to prejudice [anything]. A minister is always cautious, but it certainly stacks up and does justify putting some resources into exploring it.”

Smith says Queenstown has an “acute housing need”, particularly for workers, with more intensive housing options close to the CBD needing consideration.

Barclay has asked Smith to expedite the disposal process when the high school is decommissioned late next year, with the new school opening near Remarkables Park in early 2018.

If the Ministry of Education no longer requires the land for education, determination of its future ownership or use was governed by the Public Works Act 1981, under which Ngai Tahu has first right of refusal.

Barclay: “Affordable housing in the Queenstown area is an issue I have been working on for some time and I can see the potential of the Gorge Rd site for development.”

The MP has met Ngai Tahu Property representatives, employers and community groups to gauge the interest in developing the site for housing, should it become available.

“Should Ngai Tahu express interest in this land and consider assisting with the provision of more worker accommodation, my hope is that we can start engaging with community stakeholders, council and employers and investigating new models for worker accommodation and affordable housing developments as soon as possible.”

Queenstown Lakes District Community Housing Trust boss Julie Scott says the trust is very supportive of the proposal.

Otago Daily Times