Rototuna residents fear houses are student hostels in disguise

04:06, May 06 2013

Residents of Rototuna in Hamilton have joined voices with Tamahere householders outraged about massive houses being built in their communities they fear are to become student hostels.

Chinese developer LV Park Construction is building a two-storey, seven bedroom house with ensuites in Barwick Place, Rototuna, and neighbours who believe it is intended to be student housing have taken their concerns to the Hamilton City Council.

The Waikato Times reported last week that LV Park manager Thomas Wang planned eight large-scale homes in a developing area of Tamahere, in the Waikato District Council's patch.

The proposed Tamahere houses have between eight and nine bedrooms, with ensuite bathrooms. Concerned residents claim the development is a student housing complex for Chinese tertiary students.

Thomas Wang refused to comment on the Rototuna development. Last week when contact by the Waikato Times about his Tamahere developments, he said they were not for students, but for extended families.

In Rototuna two more LV Park developments, with almost identical building plans, are going up on Hartford Rd and nearby New Borman Rd.

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The Barwick Pl resident group has complained to the city council and is critical of the way it has handled the issue.

Resident Bridget Griffiths said dealing with council protocol felt like "hitting our heads against a brick wall".

"I think [council] needs to clarify and have stricter guidelines ... their guidelines are very loose," Mrs Griffiths said.

The residents had been told the development was intended for student housing in December.

Five separate households lodged complaints with council.

They were concerned the build would not be in keeping with the neighbourhood of young families on the street and, with an influx of seven to 14 new residents, it would attract cars and excess rubbish.

Members of the group received letters from council in January which said it was seeking further information about the use and management of the property.

But the letter said the district plan did not stipulate how many bedrooms or separate bathroom facilities a dwelling could have.

"In the absence of any specific rules it is therefore important we have an understanding of how the dwelling will be used and we are seeking further clarification from the applicant to satisfy this," the letter read.

City council planning guidance manager Debra Stan-Barton said the unusual house design had caused confusion over the application.

"We wanted to understand what the activity of the dwelling was ... You don't tend to see seven-bedroom houses that often," she said.

The council consulted its solicitors over the application but found the building complied with the district plan.

LV Park had supplied the council with amended plans for the home, reducing planned bedrooms from eight to seven, and provided a statement confirming its use as a private home for an extended family.

In the statement, designer Pargat Singh, of LPB Designs, the same design company LV Park has used for the Tamahere houses, said his company had contacted the council on behalf of LV Park.

The designer noted detailed discussions with LV Park on the intent of the houses.

The designer also explained the council had a "duty" and "will monitor the home after construction to ensure the house is used for the intended purpose only, and the implications if this has not been done".

Ms Stan-Barton said if the allegations proved to be true, the city council would be unable to take any action until building was finished.

"People have to be not operating in accordance before you can do something ... It's not for us to determine how people choose to live".

In residential areas, a residential centre or hostel would require resource consent.

The concerned residents' group is also waiting to see who moves in.

"If there's something not complying, we'll complain about it. But by then, it's too late," Mrs Griffiths said.

Fellow Barwick resident Janean Anglesey said she felt residents' concerns weren't taken on board.

Waikato Times