Defence houses to accommodate ChCh rebuild workers

  • Jonathan Coleman
Defence Canterbury Earthquake Recovery

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman has announced the NZ Defence Force and Fulton Hogan have signed a deal to help accommodate workers involved in the Christchurch earthquake rebuild.

The NZDF has signed a lease agreement with Fulton Hogan for 42 empty defence houses next to the Burnham Military Camp.

Both organisations have been searching for solutions to the shortage of accommodation to house workers and their families who have relocated to Christchurch to work on the rebuild.

“The NZDF and Fulton Hogan have a long term commitment to assist with the Christchurch earthquake recovery effort.  Leasing the houses to those who are helping to rebuild the city is a practical solution which suits both parties,” said Dr Coleman.

The lease agreement is for three years with a three year right of renewal. The houses that have been leased were previously derelict and Fulton Hogan will be responsible for their refurbishment and maintenance throughout the lease period.

“Fulton Hogan and their staff have worked with the NZDF for a number of years now and we this development in the on-going relationship,” said Dr Coleman.

Background

How vacant housing has come to be made available at Burnham:

  • In June 2010 the New Zealand Defence Force announced that vacant and surplus Defence houses at military camps and bases around New Zealand were being sold.
  • In the first phase of the Defence Housing Rationalisation Programme (DHRP), the New Zealand Defence Force was selling 174 vacant Army camp houses at Linton, Waiouru, and Burnham for removal in three stages. The staged approach was to avoid flooding the market at any one time.
  • After the Feb 2011 earthquake, the New Zealand Defence Force put on hold the disposal of vacant surplus housing at Burnham, foreseeing that the surplus housing may be needed as part of the recovery effort.
  • After the first earthquake the vacant houses were offered to the Housing Emergency Leasing Programme. Only one house was occupied. The tenant has since been relocated.
  • Since then the NZDF has engaged with CERA and the Department of Building and Housing to discuss the use of Defence Housing in Christchurch, about how best these houses could be used to support the Christchurch recovery effort.

Background to the surplus / vacant housing issue

  • Demand for Defence houses has fallen significantly since the Defence Force introduced in 2008 a universal accommodation component as part of Service personnel’s total pay packet.
  • In effect Service personnel can now choose to live on base in Defence housing, or can take an equivalent allowance and choose to make their own accommodation arrangements in the wider community.
  • This gives personnel greater choice, and ensures that all personnel receive the same level of accommodation assistance.
  • As a result of the introduction of this new policy, demand for Defence housing has fallen significantly and there are now significant numbers of vacant houses, equal to approximately 25 per cent of the total Defence housing portfolio.
  • Many of the Defence Force’s vacant / surplus houses are at the final stages of their life expectancy and do not meet the needs of personnel and their families without significant remedial work.