Plans for a one-stop-shop youth hub in Christchurch have taken a major step forward with the project being granted resource consent.
Social services are overjoyed, saying the mental health of the city's youth is deteriorating.
A derelict quake-damaged bowling club in the heart of Christchurch will be turned into a facility, planned to have short term housing units, counselling and medical advice, in addition to vocational training and support for youth as young as 10.
The $20 million facility is the brainchild of long-time youth advocate Dame Sue Bagshaw.
In his decision, the commissioner called it an exceptional and inspiring project, saying that the city wide community benefit marginally outweighed the adverse effects.
Neighbours opposed the development - citing the district plan which has zoned this area for residential use only. But the needs of the city's youth appear to have prevailed.
“In Ōtautahi we have had extras in terms of earthquakes, in terms of mosque shooting and now of course Covid,” Bagshaw said.
“And they need somewhere where they can feel safe and they can belong,” she added.
The Christchurch City Mission says it's seen a rapid spike in the number of young people needing help.
“The things we didn't anticipate we'd see change post Covid has been our alcohol and drug work and our mental health - we have seen unprecedented referrals for youth through those services,” said Christchurch City Mission's Matthew Mark.
Sofie Hampton, who's overcome mental health challenges, says the hub could save lives.
“We've got a child system and an adult system and youth really struggle and neither system is great for young people,” she said.
Neighbours are still considering whether to appeal.
But fundraising plans are tentatively underway, with the government promising the first half from Covid-19 Recovery Fund.
“The sooner we get it, the better,” Mark said.