New Zealand / Housing

Papanui residents upset with boarding house plan

16:34 pm on 15 October 2020

Residents in a quiet Christchurch suburban street say a boarding house for 75 people opening up would change the dynamic of the community.

Christchurch City Council. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Erica Lodge Limited has applied for resource consent from Christchurch City Council to convert an existing rest home into a boarding house on Erica Street in Papanui.

But those who live nearby are concerned the transformation will bring a lot more cars and a different demographic to the street.

The lodge owner, Greg Nell, and nine residents are giving submissions at a Resource Management Act hearing panel in Christchurch today.

Nell said he understoof why residents haf concerns but they would not be realised.

"We run boarding houses in Auckland and one in Hamilton so this isn't new for us," Nell said.

"We don't accept everybody and anybody, we have measures in place to ensure we have the right tenants."

He said the boarding house he runs in Hamilton shared a driveway with two houses - both of which have never had a problem.

"They've actually written letters in support of our application, we've never had opposition like this before."

Nell said he was happy to show anyone with concerns around the property.

Grant Buchanan has lived behind the rest home for six years, a reserve separates the two properties.

He said he was not able to make a submission on the resource consent as the council did not deem him 'affected'.

"The community is really concerned so we've all got together to try and take action."

Buchanan said when the property was run as a rest home it could hold about 57 people.

He wants the council to restrict the number of residents to 36.

"There are 36 rooms on the property with en suites so we think 36 residents is a better number.

"This is a low density housing area so the boarding house needs to match that - a boarding house with 75 people would be better suited in a high density housing area like the central city."

To go from 57 residents who didn't have cars to 75 younger people was a complete change of use of the property, Buchanan said.

"We had no problems with the elderly residents, they were quiet, lived mainly inside the facility and were nice to interact with."

He said the impact on the community would change.

"We estimate that with 75 people there could be upwards of 50 cars, most of which will be parked in the street."

Buchanan said Nell comparing the lodge in Christchurch to the other ones he runs was not fair.

"He is trying to compare vehicle use in his Auckland facilities with those in Christchurch - people in Auckland are used to using public transport and if they live in the city, most likely don't own cars. Most people in Christchurch own a car," he said.

"You have to compare apples with apples."

Buchanan felt the council could have handled the situation better.

"They've excluded a significant amount of the community - the elderly have been excluded because most of the information is online, and there are a few people in the community who don't have English as their first language and all of the information is in English."

The Resource Management Act hearing panel is set down for two days.

Once the hearing finishes tomorrow, the panel has 15 working days to issue a written decision.

The council said having a boarding house for 75 people in a low density housing area was not permitted under the district plan, hence the need for the proposal to be considered through a resource consent process.