Pensioners fear development
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.’’
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.