New statistics released from the Marlborough Labour Market Survey show close to 2,000 more workers will be needed for the 2019/20 season, meaning a shortage of worker accommodation is inevitable unless more housing is developed.
The Marlborough Labour Summit, held recently, highlighted the need to do something sooner rather than later with regard to the lack of accommodation available for seasonal workers. Issues to be taken into consideration at this stage were the cost of developer contributions and the availability of builders.
The Marlborough Express article outlines the issues raised at the Summit and possible outcomes for the future.
Wine Marlborough general manager Marcus Pickens said the summit was a good first step.
“I think it’s important that we all own these problems, and that we’re all part of the solution, because this is a big opportunity for Marlborough,” he said.
During his presentation, council chief executive Mark Wheeler said the role of the council was to zone land, provide infrastructure and make regulatory processes as simple as possible for developers.
“We’ll provide the land and the infrastructure for you to hook into, but after that it’s really over to the developers to make it happen,” he said.
There was enough residential-zoned land to accommodate 1680 houses around Blenheim, and the council was working with developers who had plans to construct worker accommodation that would add another 800 beds, he said.
Wheeler said a common critique levelled at the council was the cost of developer contributions, however it was necessary to recoup costs so the burden did not fall on ratepayers.
However, Hope said some concessions could be made in the interest of attracting more workers, who would then form a broader ratepayer base.
Others also raised concerns about the cost of developer contributions, with Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith saying there should be more flexible options instead of developers paying upfront.
Costs could be staggered over a period of time, as developers started to see returns on their investment, he said.
There were already constraints on accommodation and the number of builders available to undertake work, so it was important steps were taken as soon as possible, he said.
“Everybody in Marlborough will pay the price if we don’t get this right, because housing costs and rental prices will go up if we don’t get ahead of this problem.”
– The Marlborough Express
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