Big camps planned for workforce
The bar closes at 8pm, alcohol is discouraged, visitors must be signed in and if you misbehave, your boss will be told. Welcome to Christchurch's new accommodation for rebuild workers.
Prefab buildings on four central-city sites could provide a home for more than 1000 people under plans announced today.
The proposal got a mixed reaction from the building industry, with one of New Zealand's largest construction companies raising concerns about how "large-scale worker camps" will integrate with the community.
JGM Group director Jamie Thomas said the first labourer accommodation site could be open in March next year.
The complex would include suites, a bar, catering, a small football pitch, basketball hoops, a communal lounge and pinball machines. Thomas said there would be 24-hour security on site, with swipe-card access to the facility and alcohol controls.
"It will be a very controlled environment for alcohol. It will be available during dinner hours and after that it is dried out and shut down," he said. "There will only be a certain amount of alcohol allowed per person for each unit. We are not encouraging stockpiling."
Tenants would have to complete background checks before moving in. The construction company would sign the tenancy, with any misbehaviour treated as an employment issue.
Thomas is in talks with the city council about putting 250 housing units on the Turners & Growers site in central Christchurch.
The site is earmarked for a stadium in the new city blueprint, but the accommodation units could occupy it in the meantime.
Thomas is in negotiations for three other sites just outside the four avenues.
Leighs Construction managing director Anthony Leighs has raised concerns over the proposal. His company is looking to buy property to house rebuild workers.
"We don't think large-scale worker camps are the way to go," he said. "We want to be more integrated into the community and a bit friendlier and more manageable. Putting large numbers of individuals into a camp will have to be carefully managed."
Nikau Contractors director John Paul Stil welcomed the plan. The demolition firm is renting eight flats and three homes for about 35 out-of-town workers in Christchurch.
"The lack of housing and the high rents are making it very difficult on the contractors," he said.
McConnell Dowell regional manager Colin Lahana said he was considering the worker housing for early next year.
Christchurch police inspector Richard Bruce said security issues at the complexes could be addressed with good design and operation. Police had been consulted on the proposals.
"We understand if there is some apprehension among the surrounding community. However, there's no indication at this stage that there will be issues," he said.
Thomas said the first housing complex would be called Cressy, after the ship that brought workers to build Christchurch more than 150 years ago. "Now we are doing it all again," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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