Govt ponders guards for temporary villages

04:06, Apr 15 2011
portablehomes
Source: Department of Building and Housing. Images: www.nztransportables.co.nz

Earthquake refugee villages will be built in eastern Christchurch next month, with the Government considering hiring security guards to keep the peace.

The Department of Building and Housing yesterday announced the preferred contractors – all New Zealand companies – to build the first 300 portable homes, which should be available from next month.

Another three firms have been put on-call if demand escalates.

The portable homes will be clustered in villages at Linwood Park, Rawhiti Domain in New Brighton and an unnamed Burwood site. Kaiapoi could also get temporary villages.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said about 5000 families were expected to need temporary accommodation while their homes were repaired or rebuilt.

The department had indicated up to 10,000 houses might be needed.

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"In the next two to three-year period ... we expect a number of families to cycle through [the homes]," he said.

Every effort would be made to make the villages secure and comfortable, including possibly appointing village managers and security guards "so people have someone to go to if tensions arise", he said.

The Government has set aside $38 million for the housing.

However, some money would be recovered through rent, which ranged from $190 for a two-person house to $337 for a six-person house.

People could be in the homes for up to two years.

Homeowners could also have portable homes on their properties while their houses were repaired, but would have to meet some installation costs.

The department received 226 submissions of interest for the building project.

It chose New Zealand companies Jennian Homes, New Zealand Transportable Units and a consortium made up of Hawkins, Spanbild and Fulton Hogan.

Three other firms, Smith Crane, Hawkins Falcon and Tranzasia, will be called on if needed.

Hawkins South Island manager Quin Henderson said the project would be a huge boost for Canterbury's building industry.

His company was ready to employ 250 more tradespeople.

"If anybody wants work, call us," he said.

Contractors would meet the department today to discuss the details.

New Zealand Transportable Units managing director Victor Kendall said his company would be building homes for villages and people remaining on properties.

All portable houses would be insulated and self-contained, appearing much like a normal house but smaller, he said.

"People live in them permanently. It's a home away from home, and quite different from living in a campervan."

The temporary homes will probably replace the 300 campervans that have been placed at Canterbury Agricultural Park.

The campervans are still not occupied after more than a month but Heatley said up to 80 people had applied to move into the vans.

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Press reporter Olivia Carville went to find out what residents of Linwood and New Brighton thought about their local parks being turned into temporary housing villages.

Do you use Linwood Park or Rawhiti Domain? Tell us what you think about the temporary villages.

Linwood resident Rose Castree said local people would be disappointed when the temporary accommodation filled the park but she realised that "wherever you put them someone will complain".

Another resident, Des Smith, who walks through Linwood Park everyday thought it was positive the site was being used for temporary housing.

"They have got to have somewhere to go and wherever you set them up somebody is going to moan. It's just one of those things you have got to get on and do," said Smith.

Nathan Daniels, 15, Ben Paterson, 14, and Jesse Pihama, 14 were unsure about the park being converted into a housing village.

The three teenagers all use the park for recreational activites  and said losing the park would disappoint the community.

"It kind of sucks but then again it's kind of good for the people," said Ben.

Nathan thought the temporary village bing housed in Linwood Park was "kind of dumb".

Mark Saunders has been walking his dog Ronnie in the Rawhiti Domain in New Brighton for the past six years and said he was disappointed there had been no public consultation about the temporary village.

"I'm not overly happy, there was no warning and no consultation but I guess they have got to go somewhere."

He said it was a "bit upsetting" to lose the park.

The Press