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Proposal to solve Fiordland's immediate worker accommodation crisis

The Southland App

12 April 2024, 6:50 AM

Proposal to solve Fiordland's immediate worker accommodation crisisSpokesperson Nathan Benfell explains a Fiordland Business Association proposal to help solve Fiordland's immediate worker accommodation crisis. Photo: The Southland App

A proposal to help solve Fiordland's immediate worker accommodation crisis as early as this Spring, was presented at two meetings in Te Anau today (12 Apr) by the Fiordland Business Association (FBA) and Timaru's Genius Homes.


Genius Homes' Kiwi 1 and 2 bedroom range of housing is part of a FBA proposal to solve Fiordland's worker accommodation crisis. Graphic: Genius Homes/Supplied


If successful, up to 30 - one to three bedroom - low cost prefabricated homes could be built at Genius Homes' south Canterbury factory before being transported and erected on an Alpine Drive site in Te Anau.


The ambitious proposal could see the first homes delivered by November 2024.


The proposed Te Anau site of low-cost housing for worker accommodation. Graphic: Supplied


However it is envisaged the site will only remain occupied for up to 10 years, after which time the homes may need to be relocated.


FBA spokesperson Nathan Benfell said today's meetings were about getting feedback, seeing if there was interest in the proposal and if it was "the right thing for the community".


While happy with the turnout, feedback and new ideas, he acknowledged there was still a lot of work to be done.



Benfell said that a survey carried out last year by the FBA had shown 56% of respondents required between one and five staff but were hampered to do so because of a lack of accommodation.


While the concept has been on the table since late December, the current proposal developed after a chance meeting between Genius Homes and a member of the trust that owns the Alpine Drive site, at the Southern Fielddays, Benfell said.


The proposal hinges on investors or businesses purchasing the finished and installed homes, valued at between $159,000 and $187,000, and paying their share of rental on the land.



Benfell envisaged the completed facility would be run by a body corporate, be landscaped and include play areas and possibly a garden.


Genius Accommodation Chief Executive Kingsley Smith said the concept had been done a lot in Australia.


Genius Homes had been involved with similar projects in both Queenstown and the McKenzie District, however both involved a single investor, Smith said.



Smith said the current proposal had been designed with affordability and speed in mind.


Southland District Council councillor and local business owner Sarah Greaney said she was encouraged by the way the FBA was looking for a solution to the problem.


However she said there was still a lot of questions to be answered and exploring to be done.



Ray White Real Estate Te Anau owner Don McFarlene said there would be a lot of work still to be done, with resource consents being the biggest battle.


However he said it was a positive move and he could fill 12 of the houses tomorrow with people who already have jobs.



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