Discussions advance on getting Abbeyfield 'flat for seniors' model in Marlborough

An Abbeyfield home, near Nelson.
SUPPLIED

An Abbeyfield home, near Nelson.

A group trying to set up a $2 million "flat for seniors" in Marlborough will meet with the council to discuss how it could tie into social housing in the region. 

The Abbeyfield steering committee wants to make a submission to the council's annual plan, on establishing a 12 to 14-bedroom house for older people. 

The house would provide studio accommodation for seniors, with meals provided and a live-in housekeeper on the premises. 

An Abbeyfield house in Whangarei.
SUPPLIED

An Abbeyfield house in Whangarei.

Committee members, and the head of Abbeyfield New Zealand, will hold talks about the idea with Marlborough District Council staff on February 27. 

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Committee member Graeme Faulkner said the committee was also in the process of forming itself into an incorporated society, so it could register with Abbeyfield New Zealand. 

"We are happy that [the project] will happen, we are pretty confident that it will," he said. 

The idea was first proposed by Grey Power last year, and the committee grew out of a Grey Power public meeting. 

Abbeyfield houses were found around New Zealand, and the cost of living in an Abbeyfield house ranged from $340 to $395 per week, inclusive of food and power.

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith said he believed the community needed to be consulted before the council decided to provide any financial support for the project.  

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Faulkner said topics discussed with council staff would be broad, and would include how Abbeyfield house would fit "into the whole social housing situation".

The council was looking to update its portfolio of 177 pensioner flats, some of which were 50 to 60-years-old, but had not yet decided what to do with them.

One councillor suggested selling some off to help Marlborough's shortage of rental properties. 

Having the Abbeyfield house close to the town centre would be crucial, but other details had to be sorted out before finding a location, Faulkner said. 

Land near Wairau Hospital was suggested as a possible site last year, but Faulkner said he did not think the site was suitable. 

Grey Power publicity officer Barbara Hutchinson said she thought the older age group would welcome co-operative housing, despite flatting sometimes being seen as a lifestyle for younger people. 

"There's all sorts of co-operative housing throughout the world," she said. 

Age Concern community worker Catherine Donnelly said she personally supported the Abbeyfield house idea.

It would be similar to living in a rest home, Donnelly said. 

"I personally think it's a good thing, I think it's something that would work, that would be an asset to the community," Donnelly said. 

 - The Marlborough Express

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