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Wanaka developer Murray Frost believes Luggate can help Wanaka workers find permanent homes, as housing availability and affordability become critical issues in the district.

Mr Frost’s company, Lake McKay Ltd Partnership, has applied for non-notified resource consent to develop about 125 sections on a 15ha block behind Luggate.

Mr Frost said it would significantly expand Luggate’s housing stock.

‘‘I think Allan Dippie’s development added about 130 sections, and there were originally about 70 or 80 sections in old Luggate. So we are probably adding another 50% to 60% to Luggate.

‘‘It’s a substantial increase, and I guess it is a natural place for it to happen. It isright beside Luggate and in my view, it’s better than squeezing a whole lot more 400sq m sections into Wanaka,’’ Mr Frost said.

Project details are still being worked through with the Queenstown District Council, but Mr Frost said section sizes should be about 800sq m and at least 1ha of community reserve would be created beside Luggate Creek.

A future stage would have a new village precinct on the site of the Upper Clutha Transport Yard, with the historic Luggate Flour Mill as a centrepiece.

Mr Frost is a retired Deloittes partner and has been involved in several Upper Clutha subdivisions, including Peninsula Bay in Wanaka, with Infinity Ltd, and the Pukerangi subdivision near Luggate.

Mr Frost was asked what gave him confidence tocontinue developing in the present Covid-19 climate, when tourism had slumped and there were constraints on building supplies and capacity.

‘‘Despite all the points you’ve made, there’s still very strong demand in Wanaka. Wanaka is still a very small place and there’s a lot of people who can work from home. The tradies are struggling to find somewhere to live . . .We haven’t even advertised yet but we have sold 15 without advertising. There is plenty of demand there,’’ he said.

The Otago Daily Times also asked Mr Frost if his Luggate development could help alleviate pressure on housing availability and affordability, as highlighted by the Silverlight Studios Ltd application for film studios and workers accommodation near Wanaka Airport.

Heather Ash, the chairwoman of an independent fast-track consent panel overseeing the Silverlight application, last month described Wanaka’s housing issues as ‘‘critical’’ and a ‘‘key issue’’ for the panel’s consideration.

The Silverlight panel has been advised by economist Simon Harris there is no possibility, based on Wanaka’s existing housing stock, of accommodating the estimated Silverlight workforce (4100 full and parttime workers in year one), placing severe pressure on the housing market in the short and medium term.

Mr Frost said his Luggate subdivision did not specifically contain an affordable housing component but he was aware development must be affordable.

He believed house prices in Luggate were cheaper, per square metre, than in Wanaka.

He had not seen a need to enter into a special housing area agreement with the Queenstown Lakes District Council, as other Upper Clutha developers had.

Nor had he approached, or been approached by, Silverlight Studios Ltd.

‘‘This is a major expansion for Luggate . . .For Luggate, this will [deliver] in 2023, but Silverlight, they may well have accommodation needs well before that,’’ Mr Frost said.

His team had ‘‘just yesterday’’ considered developing a special area in Luggate for temporary, removable housing for a limited period of time, but that option was not in the plans before the council.

He said one example of temporary housing was the Queenstown Country Club retirement village project, where the Sanderson Group housed about 50 construction workers in removable onsite temporary accommodation.

‘‘It is something we would be open to considering,’’ he said.

However, for now he wanted to concentrate on earthworks, complete the subdivision application, and obtain engineering approval, so services and roading work could begin about April next year.