The local advisory group for the new Dunedin Hospital met today and gave initial consideration to how the city might house the construction workforce, given the ‘inevitability’ that some workers will come from out of town.
Group convenor Pete Hodgson said that the issue was important because there was an opportunity to consider the future social housing needs of the city, but provide for them a few years earlier than might otherwise be the case, and use them to house working families in the meantime.
‘The Dunedin City Council has a pretty good handle on the changing housing needs of the city, and where some housing redevelopment might take place. The new ingredient in the mix is that Dunedin will inevitably host some hundreds of out of town workers for several years while the hospital is being built. So it makes sense to gather available information together and see whether a bit of co-ordination can facilitate an accelerated house-building program.
‘Of course houses will not be built as part of the hospital budget, but there are several private and public investors, including Ngai Tahu, who may well have an interest. The next step is to acquaint these folk with what we know about the likely increase in housing demand.
‘We will need to cater not just for families but single workers, who may prefer to live in simpler, cheaper accommodation. Also, the main contractor will not be known for a long time yet and may be a significant player in such decisions.
‘However, this is a very large project in a small city. Therefore it makes sense to not leave decisions entirely to the market. If we do then the market might simply soak up commercially available accommodation for years. If that happens we run the risk of damaging our tourism sector because Dunedin will be too full too often.
‘This is an excellent example of the role a local advisory group can play.’