Monday, 24 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Floating homes potentially coming to Whitianga Waterways

By Stephan Bosman and Jordan Gower

A new and inventive housing concept could be on its way to Whitianga, with the help of Kerry Martin, the director of a company by the name of Waterside Sustainable Developments.

Kerry is experienced in the development of floating homes all around the world, including Holland and Vancouver. “There are more than 1,000 floating homes dotted around Vancouver and they’re revolutionising the way people live,” says Kerry.

When Kerry first visited Whitianga, he liked the town instantly and now wants it to be somewhere he can spend summers with his family. “I see Whitianga as a place with great potential, for floating homes and for other amenities that I’d like to bring too, like a splash track for kids in the summer time,” he says. “You already have the Whitianga Waterways, which is a great start. Whitianga is a very water-based, water-loving community. It just seems like living in and around the water is a natural thing for the people of the area.”

There has already been a huge amount of interest in the potential floating homes, with half of the interest coming from people who already live on the Coromandel Peninsula. The television show, Grand Designs has also expressed interest in following the development of one of the homes.

A floating home certainly sounds like something from the future, but according to Kerry, it’s really quite simple. Each home would come with a piece of land of around 250m² on which a car garage can be constructed and enough room around the home to moor a boat. The homes lend themselves to a regular building plan - single or double story with two to six bedrooms - and can also be disconnected and moved around relatively easily. As easily as one can move an entire house, anyway.

Sustainability is in the name of Kerry’s company and Kerry says being sustainable isn’t just a plan, it’s what they do. “Where we can seek to be sustainable, we will be,” he says. “There are also environmental advantages to living on the water as well, as floating homes tend to have a much lower energy consumption.”

Aside from the sustainability benefits, Kerry seems genuinely taken by the idea of living within one’s environment. “There’s something really magical about waking up the morning, the sun coming up and looking out at the mist coming off the water,” he says. “It’s truly special.”

In an ideal world where everything goes to plan as quickly as possible, Kerry would like to have a show home built in the Whitianga Waterways by the end of the coming summer. It’s an extreme goal, but with some determination it could be achieved.

Peter Abrahamson, the Whitianga Waterways manager, says they’re very interested in Kerry’s concept. “We’ve already started looking at ways we can alter the design of what we plan to do the next few years to accommodate as many as 12 floating homes,” he says. That having been said, it’s a groundbreaking idea and a lot of work, including some outside-the-square thinking, will have to be done to get all the correct consents in place.”

Whitianga is not the only area where consideration is given to new ways of living. In Christchurch there are plans to turn some of the city’s red zone into an area filled with inventive homes such as floating homes and tiny houses.

“While we’re working on making Kerry’s floating homes happen, we have several other things in the pipeline too,” says Peter. “We expect work on a Mobil service station on the corner of State Highway 25 and Joan Gaskell Drive to start within the next few weeks, construction of a new bridge to what will be our second island is not far off and we’re continuing to work on a resort hotel as well. It’s exciting times and the prospect of floating homes in the Whitianga Waterways is certainly making things more interesting.”

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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.