Wellington.Scoop » Karori’s new retirement village – four years from now

Wellington.Scoop report by Rohan Latta
Some Karori residents fear they are too old to take advantage of the new retirement village on the site of the former teachers’ college, which is stalled at the planning stage. Public submissions on resource consent are being received.

Karori Residents Association President Andrea Skews says she has received calls from residents wanting to move in and asking why it is taking so long.

Skews says the community was initially upset about losing some services such as tennis courts, but over time they just want it all done.

“Now we’re looking at a good few years on the track,” Skews said. “There are a few residents who fear that by the time it’s built, they’ll be too old, or they’ll have to move elsewhere.”

Ryman has set up apartments in some of his other properties until they can move into Karori, said Skews, who is a local real estate agent.

When completed, she says the retirement village will bring jobs, visitors and boost business to central Karori and be a major asset to the suburbs.

The retirement village will also offer older residents of larger homes a place to downsize in Karori, making their homes available to younger families.

“Most importantly, it will help the community stay in the community, which is of the utmost importance in my opinion.”

Ryman Healthcare unveiled an updated design during open days last month at the Karori Community Center. A Ryman spokesperson said the organization was working with Wellington City Council to secure resource consent, and construction is expected to take three-and-a-half to four years after that.

She said many residents of Karori wanted to buy flats so they wouldn’t have to leave the suburbs, but there had been concerns about disruption during construction.

She said the new design aims to be more residential in shape, a change from the more commercial glass walls of the previous plan.

The freestanding building has been reduced from four to three levels and retains the existing Lopdell Gardens as a public park.

Initially, advocates for preserving the teachers’ college campus were reluctant, but the spokesperson said Ryman’s structural engineers consider most of them to be structurally unsafe.

However, the Brutalist Allen Ward Hall will remain from the old site and surrounding new construction will be tied to the remaining original structures, according to the spokesperson.

Heritage Protection Wellington committee member Ben Schrader was involved in the campaign which attempted to stop the demolition of the original buildings.

But most of them have been demolished, so the organization now wants to remove the Category 1 heritage listing it was based on across campus.

“Despite our best efforts, it was a very difficult thing to do and we were unable to generate public support,” Schrader said.

There was a proposal to keep some of the old campus utilities and another to turn part of it into a medical center, but “none of those things flew.”

Council Planning Technician Peter McLuskie said the council had publicly notified the resource consent application that Ryman began in September 2020 and that submissions were open until May 17.

Rohan Latta is a postgraduate journalism student at Massey University in Wellington.

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