Eyes on the ball: Council seeks more information from MSD about emergency housing plans

The council wants to know the correct procedure for getting a ball when it goes over a fence if it grants consent for ...
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

The council wants to know the correct procedure for getting a ball when it goes over a fence if it grants consent for emergency housing.

Plans to put emergency housing in an upmarket Blenheim suburb has led to a string of important questions, like how to correctly retrieve a ball that goes over the fence.

Backlash from residents has prompted the council to take a closer look at how emergency housing run out of Brydan Accommodation, a motel in Springlands, might work.

The Ministry of Social Development first applied for resource consent to change the usage of the motel to house families and individuals struggling for a place to live in May.

It argued the consent should be non-notified, triggering an outpouring of opposition from residents concerned about everything from the effect on house prices to security.

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To flesh out the details of the application the council sought more information from the ministry, ranging from where children would go to school to the role of the on-site supervisor.

Springlands residents are concerned about everything from house prices to security, and seemingly what happens if a ball ...
RICKY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Springlands residents are concerned about everything from house prices to security, and seemingly what happens if a ball ends up in their garden.

"Is it their responsibility to inform the individuals and families living on the site as to the correct procedure to follow when retrieving a ball that goes over the fence?" the request read.

"How will the site be managed to ensure the neighbours will not be disturbed by any outdoor activities?"

The council received 23 objections from Springlands residents calling on them to publicly notify the consent, which would have allowed anyone to make a submission on the ministry's plans. 

The Ministry of Social Development's application to use Brydan Motel, in the Blenheim suburb of Springlands, has led to ...
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

The Ministry of Social Development's application to use Brydan Motel, in the Blenheim suburb of Springlands, has led to a flurry of objections from residents.

However, a council spokeswoman said on Tuesday the application would not be publicly notified, but affected parties would have the opportunity to make submissions.

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The affected parties would have 20 days to consider the application and make their submission. From there, the council would decide whether or not to hold a hearing on the matter.

Ministry deputy chief executive for housing Scott Gallacher said if the council approved the application the ministry would communicate with neighbours about how the property would be managed.

"We want neighbours to be confident that should the ministry's plan to use the motel as transitional housing proceed, they will not see any great change from today," he said.

"There would be no more people staying there at any one time than there is now when the motel is full, and there will be a transitional housing manager on-site 24/7."

However, the notices of objection from residents calling for the application to be publicly notified revealed deep-seated concerns about the proposal.

One read: "We put council on notice that we object to this application and the assessment of effects in the strongest possible terms and wish to be heard in relation to the proposed application."

The Springlands resident went on to say they were in the process of "gathering information that will provide evidence of the unsatisfactory and, at times, unsavoury outcomes of other similar housing schemes".

Many of the other notices acknowledged the need for emergency housing, however they argued that Springlands was not the right area and if the development went ahead it would have a "significant and negative impact" on the community.

Another notice brought up the effect on Springlands School, arguing the change in use at the motel would introduce a "large number of children (potentially 20+) into Springlands".

"This will bring disruption throughout the school and apply pressure to class numbers," the notice read.

Springlands School principal Gaylene Beattie said the board of trustees had asked to be considered as an affected party, but had not reached a decision on whether it supported or opposed the application.

Trustees wanted to have more information about how many children were likely to be living at the motel. The school had a capacity of 460 students, and a roll of about 450 presently, so the board was always keeping an eye on numbers, Beattie said.

If the ministry ended up purchasing the motel, it would be run by the Christchurch Methodist Mission in association with Crossroads Marlborough Charitable Trust.

Crossroads co-ordinator Janette Walker said it was "really disappointing people are choosing to deliberately scuttle a process that gives people a secure roof over their head".

"A society is measured by how it treats its vulnerable people," she said.

 - The Marlborough Express

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