Wainuiomata rest home depends on land prices

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 11:13 02/09/2014

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A rest home in Wainuiomata could finally get the green light.

The Masonic Villages Trust last week confirmed plans to build a $30 million retirement village on former reserve land in the heart of the suburb.

The facility will include a 48-bed rest home, hospital and 72 villas on the 3.9 hectare site.

Wainuiomata residents have been asking for a retirement facility for decades and the only major stumbling block to the proposal appears to the cost of the land.

The city council will tonight discuss a proposal to sell the land to the trust for $275,000. Although it is in theory worth much more, developer John Hughes, who is working with the trust on the proposal, says the site needs a huge amount of remedial work.

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The land is basically a swamp and the soil will have to be removed and replaced with hard fill, at an estimated cost of $1.6m.

Hughes says that the only way to make the project viable is to get the land cheaply.

He built a development on land adjacent to the mall and that required extensive stabilisation. It was only viable because his company picked the land up cheaply in a receiver's sale.

Hughes hopes the council will look seriously at the trust's offer, as it is clear that Wainuiomata needs the facility.

With a relatively small population (about 17,000) and low house prices in Wainuiomata, he says commercial rest home operators like Ryman or Summerset will not be interested.

Trust chief executive Warick Dunn says the trust is "keen" to proceed and is confident that if it gets the land at the right price, the project will be viable.

"If the Hutt City Council accepts this offer there is a very good chance the village will become a reality. We still have to complete detailed costings, but strong community support and the central location of the proposed site - near the shops, medical centre and other amenities - are positives. We will make a final decision in the next 12 months."

Mayor Ray Wallace says there is a clear need for such a facility.

"There is real concern from the people of Wainuiomata about the lack of appropriate housing and care facilities for the elderly in their community.

"People who've spent their lives in Wainuiomata don't want to move away and sever their community-connection when it comes time for them to consider a retirement home or rest home care."

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The proposal is in line with the council's urban growth strategy which aims to boost the population in Wainuiomata.

The trust, which was set up by the Freemasons for the benefit of the community, has a mission of providing "great care and great communities" for older New Zealanders.

- Hutt News

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