The Central Otago District Council (CODC) is to poll residents and ratepayers from outside the district on their views about whether it should become involved in providing affordable homes.

At a meeting of the CODC last week, councillors agreed to conduct a survey.

That survey is based on a request from the Central Otago Affordable Housing Trust for the council to gift the trust land to establish a “secure homes” scheme in the district.

The survey proposes to ask three questions.

1. Do you agree to [the] council supporting the development of affordable housing in Central Otago?

2. Do you agree with council contributing land worth the equivalent of $8million ($4million each from the Cromwell and Vincent wards) to the Central Otago Affordable Trust to establish a secure homes model in this region? (This would equate to a loss of return on developing the land of $16million $8million worth of land value and $8million worth of net profit).

3. Do you have any other thoughts about council’s role in providing affordable housing that you would like to share?

Initial plans to accompany the online survey with postcards in the Cromwell and Vincent wards were scrapped following concerns raised by councillors.

The rationale for the postcards was based on the council’s two parcels of residential land being developed Cromwell and The Pines in Alexandra, sitting in those wards.

There are no developments planned or likely in the Teviot Valley or Maniototo and it was proposed to focus on residents most directly financially affected by the proposal those in the two wards.

Central Otago Affordable Housing Trust chairman Glen Christiansen PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON

The decision follows the last council meeting in March, where trust chairman Glen Christiansen told councillors Central Otago was already in “dire straits” in terms of affordability of housing.

At that meeting the council resolved a policy be developed around any council-led developments before council decided to leave the decision on supporting the trust on the table.

In her report presented at last week’s meeting, council chief adviser Saskia Righarts said given the challenges of obtaining external funding to support the establishment of the trust, the only viable way forward for the trust was for the council to gift a proportion of the land they require to get up and running.

The trust had indicated they would initially need about a third of the remainder of Cromwell’s Gair Ave development and then look to extend to Alexandra.

The bare land value of a third of Gair Ave was about $4million, and the opportunity for any development profit off that land would be foregone if it was given.

The council had decided to seek the views of the community, and the results would impact the decision on whether to support the trust by gifting land.