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 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”.