The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

New retirement village bosses call for cost cuts

Bosses behind Blenheim’s biggest retirement village are looking for council to relax rules when it comes to development fees.

Summerset Group Holdings Ltd announced plans to build a $100 million rest home on a six-hectare former strawberry farm site earlier this year.

The company has appealed to Marlborough District Council to soften development levies on the project, saying it is “very different” to typical housing projects.

Residents would not be a burden on existing infrastructure, they say.

In a written submission to council, senior development manager Oliver Boyd says the upper age of residents meant they put less demand on services.

“This is primarily due to the nature of a comprehensive care retirement villages attracting an older elderly demographic.

“Summerset’s residents, across New Zealand, are typically in their early 80’s when they move into the independent units of the retirement village.

“That provision of on-site amenities, along with the age and mobility of many of Summerset’s residents, results in a low level of usage of Council funded community facilities and infrastructure,” he says.

He added resident’s use of cars was also “considerably below” that of an average residential household.

“Consequently, Summerset’s residents place less demand on roading infrastructure,” he says.

Following completion of the master plan, village design and the resource consent process, the new village is expected to open within the next two years, a spokeswoman says.

The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.
The new development will use the same designs as used for Casebrook village in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied.

The village would offer more than 200 independent living homes, including two- and three-bedroom villas, serviced apartments, and hospital level care.

It is expected more than 300 people will be employed or contracted during the construction phase. Up to 40 positions will be created at the village once it is fully operating.

“No village is exactly the same, and we have recently been conducting specific research in the Blenheim community, so that we can build the picture of locals’ preference for future home and surrounds,” the spokeswoman says.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) is still to approve the sale of the land, which was bought following the death of well-known berry farmer Celia Jones.

Council say growth, while positive for the community, came with a “number of challenges”.

“Not the least is council’s task of expanding infrastructure networks to support the increased use of essential services.

“The cost of expanding these networks is often high, and the issue of funding inevitably arises.

“As a result, alternative means for funding these capital works must be considered. Development Contributions is one such source”.

A spokesman from Marlborough District Council says it will hear what developers have to say.

“Council has taken a similar approach to Summerset’s proposal that it has taken with other developments of this type, including RSE accommodation, hotels and other retirement villages.

“Currently we are waiting for Summerset to finalise the details of their proposal”.

A development on Scott St is set to go above shops on the main thoroughfare. Photo: Matt Brown.

Marlborough to welcome the ‘Y’

For decades, its name has been as a place for people across the world to stay – and now YMCA is coming to Blenheim.

The Young Men’s Christian Association is set to open a 90-bed facility in the town centre.

Described by new owner and Blenheim man Robin Sutherland as a “flash packers”, the YMCA will breathe “new life” into the CBD, he says.

“It can be very difficult to find a room in Blenheim, and not just in the normal busy season,” he says.

“Vineyards are one, but also the government is taking a lot of rooms out of the market.”

Founded in London in 1844, the World Alliance of YMCAs is the oldest and largest Movement for youth in the world.

YMCA Christchurch chief executive Josie Ogden Schroeder says the opportunity helps solve a “significant” accommodation shortage while also allowing the YMCA to reach out into the community.

“It is our intention that our contribution to Blenheim extends over time to more than just accommodation,” says Josie.

“Our philosophy is not to come into a community and deliver in competition with others.

“Where we work best is in partnership with others, using our skills and resources to meet gaps in provision whatever they may be.

“We are really looking forward to how we can add value to the area of Marlborough and meeting a need in the accommodation market is just the first step.

Robin says working drawings, a two-month process, is halfway completed.

“It’s a matter of process, but you can never take anything for granted,” he says.

“The strange thing about Blenheim is its bloody hard to find a bed in winter, because of the vineyards.

“People that otherwise might stay at backpackers tend to graduate up to find a room in a motel.

“The YMCA business model is quite interesting which is why we started talking to them.

“There’s a wide range of rooms on offer, hopefully to suit all sorts.”

He says the business community had been very supportive with the project being very well received.

“It might help our failing CBD to get a bit of life into it,” Robin says.

Elemental Distiller's Ben Leggett celebrated two events recently. Photo: Matt Brown.

New babies for Marlborough distiller

The hectic birth of a Marlborough distillery coincided with a birth of the more natural kind.

After years in the making, Elemental Distiller co-owner Ben Leggett, released his Marlborough Roots Dry Gin recently.

And in a quirk of fate, his son Toby was born the day before the first scheduled bottling.

“Long story short, I took a single bottle … Toby’s cut, and that’s going to be the bottle that we will probably open for his 21st birthday.

“Even though it added a bit of stress to the day, it’s a nice memory that we’ve got this first bottle of gin taken from the absolute sweetest part of the gin cut.

“ … that will always be Toby’s bottle of gin and hopefully one day he will be able to enjoy it.

Ben Leggett with his new son, Toby. Photo: Supplied.
Ben Leggett with his new son, Toby. Photo: Supplied.

“It was by no means a planned event, it’s just the way life works sometimes,” Ben says.

Since it was first released at Feast Marlborough, the Roots Dry Gin has been a big hit.

The dad of two says his timing was good as the region has embraced the newest addition.

“Despite the love and scale of the wine industry here, people seem to be gin fiends as well.

Ben says the day Toby was born, he had 200 litres of his first gin run ready to go.

“The day that my son Toby was born, I had 200 litres of my very first gin run sitting in the still waiting to be run off”.

He says once both mother and baby were well and resting in hospital, he was given permission to shoot away and deal with it.

“We seem to be timing it quite well with a bit of a gin renaissance that Marlborough seems to be going through,” he says.

The distillery is based at Vines Village off of Rapaura Rd.

Stadium boss excited about new role

He’s well aware he has big shoes to fill, but incoming Marlborough Lines Stadium CEO Rob MacLean relishes a challenge.

The 48-year-old, a former School Director of Outward Bound NZ at Anakiwa, stepped into the new role last month following the departure earlier this year of Paul Tredinnick, the stadium’s boss since its 2000 opening.

Under Paul’s careful watch the stadium has become an award-winning facility, utilized by thousands of Marlburians.

Although he has been on-site for only a short time, Rob has been mightily impressed by the stadium personnel.

“There is such a lot of passion here. I have watched them with the youngsters and the other clients … they seem really good at what they do and they seem to love what they do. That’s a wonderful environment to be working in, it really is.”

Originally from Christchurch, Rob studied at both the University of Canterbury and the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, before starting work with the US National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) delivering leadership and outdoor skills courses. After working abroad for 10 years he returned home to help establish the NOLS New Zealand programme. Rob then worked out at Outward Bound before moving to Blenheim as a project manager and consultant in 2016.

With 20 years of experience managing high-performance teams, Rob feels his new role will be a perfect fit.

“I love working as part of teams … and I love being involved with people development … this organization is about developing people in all walks of life. Helping them get the most out of their life, being active, and that activity translates into so many other aspects of wellbeing … both in terms of mental health and all the dimensions of physical health … but also social cohesion, people feeling part of a community.

“I think the [stadium’s] tag line, ‘the centre of activity’, has some real meaning, it is a focal point for the community, across all ages.”

One of his first jobs will be a strategic review of the stadium, inviting stakeholders – clients, tenants, customers, school groups and sports codes – to offer their views on where they want the stadium to go over the next five to 10 years.

“There has been some huge work done in the community to get this facility up and running, it punches well above its weight for the size of the region.

“We want to know how we take it into this next phase, where is active recreation going and how do we position ourselves to be relevant, to support the interests, desires and aspirations of the people of Marlborough?”

His personal wish list for the stadium moving forward is relatively simple. “To be relevant, to be a hub for physical activity and social connection, to be as environmentally sustainable as we can get and to be a fun place for people to come to, where people always feel welcome.”

‘Making Marlborough the best place to live for all sections of the community through activity’ is a tagline that Rob identifies with.

“But we have to accept that the community’s needs are changing,” he warned.

“The way kids engage with sport is changing. How do we stay in front of that?

“Does it have to be technology versus activity, or can we incorporate both. I don’t know, let’s go and find out … it’s a pretty exciting space to be in.”

Shop sale music to their ears

A legacy of music in Marlborough is set to continue as the region’s only music shop changes hands.

Ken Hams MusicWorks Blenheim has been sold and the store is set to join the nationwide Rockshop and KBB Music network.

The Scott St store will soon close for a refit and restock as the store gets painted in Rockshop’s trademark blue.

New technology will also play a big part in the store so customers can access the store’s whole online catalogue.

Current owner Ken Ham says it is important to him that whoever bought the store would continue to look after musicians in Marlborough.

“I am delighted to announce that we have been able to pass our business on to The Rockshop.

“I know that the musicians of Marlborough will be well looked after and continue to be supported at every level,” he says.

Rockshop have a store in Nelson and had no plans to expand into Marlborough – until they realised the region would be left without a music shop.

Founder and managing director Mick Webb says it is a “privilege” to follow in the former owners’ footsteps.

“We have the same deep, fundamental, connections in the NZ musical community – and the same passion for music – that Ken, Karenne and their team brought to their region.

“We have respect and admiration for what they have achieved and their absolute commitment to generations of musicians in the province.

“It is our privilege to be there for the musicians and we look forward to continue their legacy in Marlborough,” he says.

Established in 1986, The Rockshop has long be a supporter of Blenheim’s Southern Jam event.

KBB Music – established in 1888 will focus on the piano, keyboards, brass and stringed instruments side of the business, as well as print music and tutorial resources.

Mick say he’s confident the new-look store “knows what musicians need”.

“All the directors and executives are musicians, most with regular gigs on top of their day to day executive roles. We know what musicians want and what they need: we will deliver that to Marlborough by keeping the store open in Blenheim.”

Manager and muso Bett Wells travelled from Christchurch to Blenheim yesterday to oversee the changes.

“This is the 27th store development I have over seen and I don’t envisage any issues.”

Pest invasion threat

Biosecurity bosses are battling to contain a pest that could prove catastrophic to Marlborough’s multimillion-dollar aquaculture industry.

Marlborough District Council’s biosecurity unit were called in following the discovery of hundreds of invasive pest species.

The worst case of Mediterranean fanworm ever found in Marlborough was uncovered on a boat moored at Waikawa Marina.

While the pest species was immediately destroyed, staff now face an arduous task as more were found on the seabed.

Mediterranean fanworm will readily settle on mussel grow-out lines and may reduce mussel growth by altering water flow around the lines and competing with mussels for suspended food.

Council biosecurity manager Jono Underwood says the find poses a serious threat to both the region’s salmon and mussel industries.

“It can colonise any structure in the water and has a massive filtering factor.

“Not only will it compete for space, it will filter food before it gets to the mussels,” he says.

The sea scourge has only ever been found in Marlborough in low number.

Only a dozen had previously been discovered, says Jono.

But hundreds were found after a boat, which had been in Auckland, was taken out of the water for cleaning.

“It was right up there in density,” he says.

Initially found in Auckland in 2008, the species has been trying to make its way to other parts of New Zealand, Jono says.

“It’s a bit of a nasty one and has high reproductive rates.

“Our whole goal is to try and make sure it’s not established here in Marlborough.

“We want to make sure that more and more people know about it.

“Vessel owners and operators need to play their part, know the rules, and keep their vessels clean, especially when moving around.”

“Everyone needs to be especially vigilant moving boats from northern hubs such as Auckland and Whangarei, where the fanworm is well-established and can easily establish itself on to a vessel.

“If you’re moving something south, a lift and clean immediately prior to departure is your best chance of avoiding an unwanted passenger.”

The owner was unaware of the fouling, which was probably smaller in size when the vessel came south six months ago.

Any findings must be reported by law. Worried boaties should contact  Marlborough District Council or Ministry for Primary Industries.

Marina’s multi-million dollar boost for Marlborough

The Waikawa Marina extension is expected to inject almost $20 million into Marlborough during its 18 month construction phase.

The 252-berth extension of Waikawa Marina was given the go-ahead by the Port Marlborough board last month.

Port Marlborough CEO Rhys Welbourn says the $20 million project would be put out to tender soon, with construction due to start mid-year.

Port Marlborough commissioned an economic impact report of the project as part of the resource consent process for the extension.

“The study found up to $19.5 million could be injected into the local community during the 18 month construction phase, through jobs and demand for services such as hospitality and accommodation,” he says.

“And the ongoing economic impact of the marina expansion is estimated to bring an annual additional expenditure of $2.4m in the Marlborough region, through boat repair and maintenance and hospitality.”

Depending on how much of the marina componentry and civil works were sourced locally, the report estimated that 40 to 90%, or $6.4m and $14.4m, of construction costs for the marina expansion would be spent in Marlborough.

The main industry groups to benefit locally would be quarries, transport providers, trades people, engineering consultants, landscapers, marine service providers, construction material suppliers and accommodation and hospitality providers.

Oddies Marine owner and keen sailor Aaron Blackmore says the marina extension was great for boaties and businesses alike.

“Absolutely it’s great, the extension will make the marina about 25% larger, which means more boats, more people and more work for all businesses involved in the marine industry.

“But it’s not just the marine industry to benefit, all these extra visitors to the region have to eat and sleep somewhere, they’re shopping and having other experiences around town while they are here too.”

Vining Marine owner Ian Michel says the Waikawa marina was a focal point for the boating community and it was renown around the world for being world class.

“There is no shortage of boats that want to be here, we’ve got all the amenities here, it’s a beautiful location, it absolutely makes sense to open it up for more people to enjoy.”

The extra marina space would help make the existing businesses servicing the area more sustainable, he says.

“I take on people in spring and summer but we’re not currently busy enough to keep them all year round.

“With another 250 boats in the marina hopefully I can employ staff all year round – they’re all generally local, so it’s a big boost for the community.”

Bee App good for buzz-iness

An end-to-end beekeeping app designed and incubated by Marlborough beekeepers, is set to create a buzz in the global apiculture industry.

BeeApp co-founder Dale DeLuca moved to Marlborough in 2011 to start Putake Honey with his wife Renee DeLuca.

With his background in analytical data and technology consulting, it wasn’t long before the self-taught apiarist started looking for ways to use technology to solve some of the everyday problems beekeepers have.

“After looking up apps for beekeepers, I quickly found there wasn’t anything decent around that was going to help me understand how my hives were performing, or keep track of the health of my bees, or beekeep sustainably,” Dale says.

“As a beekeeper I understand what beekeepers need and having the technology skills I thought why not have a go at developing something that we can take to the world.”

So Dale and his friends Erik Bast and Christian Stresing got straight to work developing BeeApp under their apicultural consultation company Bee Intelligence.

The Putake beekeeping team replaced paper and pencil with the app, and their feedback and insights have been key to further developing and simplifying the platform.

What started as a simple beekeeping app, has grown into a platform with a suite of functions to support virtually everyone in the apiculture industry.

Erik says BeeApp helps with everything from honey queen bee breeding, to beekeeping, sustainable apiculture, honey extraction, honey trading, inventory management and sales.

“It’s simple to use, integrates with smart hive sensors and other software to collect data from various sources and turn it into information with actionable insights,” Erik says. “These help companies manage costs, track assets and optimise their businesses,” Erik says.

BeeApp has already generated a lot of buzz in New Zealand, with a dozen commercial bee and honey companies using the platform.

The real opportunity lies in international markets, and the team will be showcasing BeeApp at industry events, including the world’s largest apiculture trade show in Montreal later this year.

New paper for our region

More coverage of local news and sport will be the result of Marlborough Weekly’s launch today, says its co-owner.

Marlborough Weekly is a free community newspaper delivered to almost 19,000 homes and businesses across the region.

It is published by the same local company that also prints Marlborough Magazine and Marlborough App.

The paper will be delivered every Tuesday, meaning it will be first in the market, a huge advantage for advertisers and readers keen to know what is happening in their communities.

Co-owner and sales manager Summa MacDonald says the paper aims to be the region’s best and she’s been delighted with the response from the local business community.

“Local business owners have been really keen to jump on board, in fact there are over 70 different businesses in our first issue, which is amazing. They understood that a strong community paper was a great place to advertise their business and along with our monthly lifestyle magazine and community smartphone app, we have all of the bases covered.”

Summa says community news is an important part of any community.

“I live in the Awatere with my husband and three children and I hear all the time that people like to feel connected with their community. We hope that this paper will help people do that.”

The paper will cover a range of community events, which will be covered by experienced Marlborough journalists Paula Hulburt and Kat Pickford with sport covered by Peter Jones.

“Currently no other media is covering sport with any great depth. This will be a huge advantage for us and everyone knows that Pete is the best sports journalist in Marlborough,” says Summa.

Rounding out the team is Lisa Erikson and Susie Williams in sales, Toni Woolf in design and publisher Andrew Board. They join Kat Duggan and Sarah Hodgett, who also work on the company’s magazine.

If you have a story you’d like told, contact the news team at [email protected] or if you’d like to advertise your business, email [email protected] or call 928 4121.

Historic pub to be bowled?

An historic hotel could be demolished to make way for a 24-hour petrol station.

The Junction Hotel in Spring Creek faces demolition to make way for a new self-serve NPD fuel station. An 8-pump, self-service fuel and caravan dump station could open later this year.

But hotel lease holder Mike Pink, who signed an agreement with the petrol company last year, vowed to stay put unless the fuel giants honour their end of the bargain.

“I’ve had a gut full of the whole fiasco. I signed an agreement last March and we were supposed to move out on July 23 last year.

“There’s been all sorts of rumours flying around and the whole thing’s been a complete disaster.

“I can’t do any repairs, any decoration and have lost a couple of staff who are worried they might not have a job in a few months,” he says.

“While Marlborough District Council may give their approval, I doubt it as they’re too scared they’ll land in the kak”, he says.

Nelson Petroleum Distributors (NPD) lodged plans with council in February to expand their premises next door to the hotel. A decision is expected to be made by Easter as NPD addresses concerns raised by the New Zealand Transport Agency regarding traffic volumes and road width.

Mike says he would need to be paid “mega bucks” to make up for the loss of the 11 years still left to run on his lease. “I have 11 years left to run on my lease so they’ll need pots of money.

“I’ve written to NPD to tell them that if they don’t complete part of it then I’m pulling out”, he says.

Mike and wife Hazel purchased the lease in October 2016.

They only just managed to keep the business afloat when the building of a new roundabout on SH1 caused sales to plummet by around 75 per cent.

But with the roundabout now in action, business has been brisk.

“The hotel owners don’t seem to really care if it sells or if it doesn’t”, Mike says.

The hotel is owned by Carol and Roger Rose through their company Stokesay Holdings Ltd.

Architects employed by NPD asked for consent to “construct, operate and maintain” a self-serve station.

They also want to remove the fuel tanks that are there and replace them with two $80,000 underground storage tanks.

“My customers have even started a petition to keep the pub. This is their last chance or I won’t be selling”, he says.

A spokeswoman from NPD says she could not comment while resource consent was waiting to be granted.