27 Apr 2023

Queenstown councillor wants government to do more to solve city's housing problems

8:41 pm on 27 April 2023

Queenstown. Photo: Crux Publishing Ltd

A Queenstown Lakes councillor is concerned the local council is being lumped with fixing a problem central government should be tackling.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council this afternoon agreed to put out a five-year housing action plan for consultation.

The plan proposed several steps, including forming an evidence-based understanding of the district's housing issues, monitoring key indicators, purchasing and developing land for affordable housing, and incentivising current and new developers to provide it.

Queenstown Lakes' housing crisis had people sleeping in cars, rentals being turned to Airbnbs and a growing number of renters fighting for a smaller pool of rentals, with costs climbing.

It was pitched as a partnership between Queenstown Lakes District Council, local support agencies and the central government. But Councillor Niki Gladding was concerned it appeared most solutions to address the crisis would fall on the council.

She had hoped for a greater partnership with central government.

"There's some good stuff in here, but I'm really concerned that we're looking to solve what is essentially a central government issue, which should be solved via taxes - which is more equitable - and we're looking to solve it via rates," Gladding told her fellow councillors.

"I was hoping through this discussion that we'd get an indication that government is more of a partner, but it sounds like it's a partnership - but really it's on us to implement it and drive it, which means the ratepayers are paying for it and obviously they're looking at a massive rates increase for the next annual plan, potentially.

"There's potentially no room to move on this if the community comes back and says, 'Our rates are too invested in this and we'd like central government to address this, this, this and this.' I'm just concerned that there's not scope for change."

Construction of Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust’s six Secure Home houses are underway at Cherwell Lane in Shotover Country.

Construction of Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust’s six Secure Home houses are underway at Cherwell Lane in Shotover Country. Photo: Supplied

She wanted to send a message to the community that councillors were listening and wanted to solve the crisis in the way residents wanted.

Council chief executive Mike Theelen said the Queenstown Lakes District Council had never played a large role in owning or delivering community housing, and he believed its approach of supporting the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust was the correct way to continue.

"It's seen as being world-leading in this country in terms of the type of community-based trust that provides housing… that's the way that we've traditionally tackled and in our discussions with the Crown and Kāinga Ora, that's continued to be the way we've promoted as being the most effective way to support housing in this district."

The waiting list for housing support from the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust had now grown to almost 900 households - about one in 15 households in the district.

The draft Queenstown Lakes District Joint Housing Action Plan 2023-28 will go out for consultation from 1 May to 9 June.

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