Pen­sion­ers fear devel­op­ment

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

FRAIL pen­sion­ers are gear­ing up for a fight in Free­mans Bay.

Hous­ing New Zealand has ap­plied for its 25-unit An­gle­sea St pen­sioner hous­ing com­plex to be re­zoned in the pro­posed uni­tary plan to al­low up to six-storey build­ings with­out any char­ac­ter re­stric­tions.

An­gle­sea St ten­ants are wor­ried it is the first step on the road to devel­op­ment.

Mau­reen Alexan­der, 95, has lived at the sin­gle-storey flats for 24 years and says her small unit is home.

Watch­ing the Spring St pen­sion­ers strug­gle through an im­pend­ing Hous­ing New Zealand devel­op­ment less than a kilo­me­tre away has stressed An­gle­sea ten­ants fur­ther, she says.

‘‘The im­por­tant thing is we’ve got to have fight­ers. A lot are fright­ened and feel these peo­ple are allpow­er­ful. But we’ve got pow­ers and we’ve got to use them.’’

Alexan­der was an in­stru­men­tal mem­ber of the vo­cal group who fought against the coun­cil sell­ing pen­sioner flats Auck­land-wide in 2002.

She be­came the pen­sioner spokes­woman and took a lead­ing role in the protests in­clud­ing a march along Queen St with signs say­ing ‘‘Leave my granny’s flat alone’’.

Hear­ing about the sale of state houses around Auck- land feels a bit like his­tory re­peat­ing, she says.

‘‘It’ll be hard work to get me out this time. Last time we just strug­gled on.

‘‘I’m sim­ply say­ing this is my home and I was told it was my home for as long as I needed it. You were in for life and you felt ab­so­lutely re­laxed about that.’’

Brian Moss, 77, has lived at the com­plex for six years.

When Hous­ing New Zealand started calling for devel­op­ment of­fers at Spring St, Moss asked a ten­ancy man­ager whether the same could hap­pen to them.

The man­ager told him An­gle­sea ten­ants didn’t have to worry, Moss says, but then they no­ticed the Hous­ing New Zealand ap­pli­ca­tion to have the height re­stric­tions lifted.

‘‘Why would they do that if not to de­velop? It’s worth shout­ing about out loud,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a rot­ten idea to get rid of these units.’’

Free­mans Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion co-chair­woman Lynne But­ler says four pen­sion­ers from the An­gle­sea com­plex have joined the group. Res­i­dents don’t want the area to be­come a rental neigh­bour­hood, she says.

‘‘This is what they say ‘live­able com­mu­ni­ties’ are – hav­ing a mix of peo­ple.’’

Co-chair Grey Sea­gar says Hous­ing New Zealand are ‘‘cherry pick­ing’’ around one of the last sur­viv­ing her­itage ar­eas.

Hous­ing New Zealand spokes­woman Bry­ony Hil­less says there are cur­rently no spe­cific plans to de­velop the An­gle­sea site.

The com­pany’s sub­mis­sion to the pro­posed uni­tary plan was made to ad­vo­cate for a ‘‘more nim­ble plan­ning frame­work’’, Hil­less says.

No de­ci­sions have been made about the Spring St pen­sioner com­plex ei­ther, she says.

‘‘The sub­mis­sions, if re­alised, would en­able Hous­ing New Zealand to sen­si­tively use its ex­ist­ing land hold­ings (7 per cent of Auck­land’s to­tal res­i­den­tial land) to help the city achieve its ob­jec­tive of 60-70 per cent growth in the ex­ist­ing metropoli­tan area.’’

Pho­tos: LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Stressed ten­ants: Mau­reen Alexan­der and Brian Moss are wor­ried about Hous­ing New Zealand plans for their homes.

What next: Hous­ing New Zealand is ap­ply­ing for six-storey build­ings to be al­lowed at its pen­sioner com­plex in Free­mans Bay.

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