15 May 2024

Holiday park bought by Kāinga Ora for $4.15m still vacant four years on

9:22 am on 15 May 2024

By Hamish McNeilly of Stuff

Aaron Lodge, in Kaikorai Valley Dunedin when it was used for a quarantine facility.

Aaron Lodge, in Kaikorai Valley Dunedin when it was used for a quarantine facility. Photo: Stuff / Hamish McNeilly

The site of a proposed Kāinga Ora housing development was purchased for $4.15 million, but four years later the property is covered in weeds and surrounded in temporary fencing.

As the winter draws near, the topic of homelessness is a hot topic in Dunedin.

On almost every block of the city's $104m revamped central business district a person can be spotted asking for spare change.

Further south, near the reserve known as 'The Oval', up to a dozen tents have been erected near the trees bordering the railway line, in an area dubbed 'Tent City'.

The Ministry of Social Development's housing register, a waiting list for public housing, shows the number of people waiting in New Zealand was 11,067 in March 2019, but that had ballooned to 25,527 in March 2024.

Over that same period, the number of people waiting in Dunedin went from 156 to 459, however, the number of those living rough was unknown.

Increased living costs, such as rent, and the closure of several boarding houses had led to a crunch across the city for those seeking shelter.

Homeless residents have increasingly congregated at The Oval, in Dunedin.

Homeless residents have increasingly congregated at The Oval, in Dunedin. Photo: Stuff / Hamish McNeilly

Meanwhile, the interactive map for Kāinga Ora properties in Dunedin shows the various stages of developments across the city.

One of those properties was the former Aaron Lodge Holiday Park, on Kaikorai Valley Rd, which was first purchased by the housing agency in October 2020, for $4.15 million excluding GST.

That 34-room property was bought with the intention of developing the site for social housing, Mel Park, Kāinga Ora Otago Southland and South Canterbury acting regional director said.

"We have subsequently sold and removed the relocatable cabins, and all chattels from the remaining buildings," Park said.

Under the Building Act, the remaining buildings must have a Building Warrant of Fitness (BWOF) to ensure health and safety compliance, Park said.

The same site was leased by the former Southern DHB - between December 2021 and the end of June 2022, as a quarantine facility.

Figures previously released to Stuff show just 35 people quarantined at the facility, which cost the DHB $34,000 to run.

Park said once the lease with the DHB, which had kept up the BWOF, ended "we planned to clear the site for redevelopment, it wasn't feasible for us to maintain the buildings to keep the BWOF compliance".

"The buildings are designed for commercial use, and do not meet current standards for residential use without extensive repairs and upgrades, and gas, water and electrical services have been disconnected."

Kāinga Ora was continuing to explore options for the Kaikorai Valley Rd property, with Park noting that "costs facing builders and developers across the country have risen significantly and the economic environment we are operating in is markedly different, which has had to be factored into our decision making".

- Stuff

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