Habitus Group has withdrawn its proposal for the development of the tennis court and vicarage lands. The validity for the offer had expired in late May and has not been renewed. Habitus Group has mentioned that this is due to significant increase in build costs and a reduction in demand. I have talked with Habitus Group director Lee Sampson. He said that overall the proposal is still a good proposition, but not in the current market conditions and with the particular development approach of Habitus Group. The proposal balanced social and commercial outcomes. Residential development is still possible on the land in the near future by prioritising either commercial interests (cram as many units as possible on the site) or social outcomes (possibly partnering with a social housing provider). Other contractual arrangements for the land could also be considered (for example selling to the highest bidder; a different development model with some risk carried by CPT;…). We could also consider other uses for the land apart from residential housing.
Habitus Group has given us all the work it has done so far, in particular the concept drawings and site analysis. We are allowed to use that as we see fit. That is worth a few thousand dollars and gives us something to work with. The main cost of our co-operation with Habitus Group has been an updated valuation of the land (which by now is probably outdated). All other costs have been borne by Habitus Group. Still, the process may have caused us some delay, which was in part due to Church Property Trustees (CPT) requirements. The withdrawal of the proposed development clearly is a disappointment.
I have asked CPT to give us clearer direction on what uses they would support for the land to help our deliberations. Vestry will meet in due course to consider a way forward.
Meanwhile, at the last vestry meeting we have given clearance to Te Papanui Trust (which owns the Youth Centre building) to commission architectural plans for a refurbished hall complex at its own cost. Parts of the complex need urgent attention.
By partnering with Te Papanui Trust our facilities can be used for community outreach, while ensuring the future of the hall complex.