'Villages' to house rebuild workers

A major international company that runs workers' camps around the world will manage two camps planned for Christchurch.

British-based Compass Group employs 500,000 people and runs camps for up to 10,000 workers in remote locations such as Australian gold mines, oil and gas fields in Kazakhstan and Algeria, and construction sites in Qatar and Canada.

It has been signed to run and help design two "working men's villages" planned for rebuild workers by JGM, a company owned by North Canterbury property developer Jamie Thomas and a group of local investors.

JGM spokesman Sam Fisher said Compass was signed "because we need people who know what they are doing in this area".

"They bring quite a lot of international experience - they will look after community life, manage all services, and look after things like security and catering.

"It's not about big brother coming in. They have expertise and have been there, done that."

The prospect of workers' camps had raised some concerns in Christchurch, especially over issues such as security and access to alcohol.

Christchurch property manager Tony Brazier, who had initially agreed to manage the sites as part of a team providing support services, said the decision to opt for experienced camp operators seemed wise.

A Compass Group subsidiary provides catering and other services in New Zealand at defence bases, hospitals and educational institutes.

In Christchurch the company would help workers build ties with the local community and arrange activities such as sports.

Fisher hoped camp construction could be finished by May.

Consent applications are before the Christchurch City Council.

Locations have not yet been revealed but JGM is interested in sites such as the Turners & Growers block.

Businesses such as construction firms hadindicated interest in 300 units but most were unsure when they would need them, Fisher said.

The secured camps will consist of pre-fabricated rows of ensuite single rooms around a central amenity hub with lounges, games rooms and outdoor activity areas. One will be named The Cressy Village after one of the first four ships that brought workers to Christchurch in 1850.

When the camps close, JGM plans to donate six units to Women's Refuge and four to the Christchurch City Mission.

The Press