HNZ city fringe clients on edge

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Vi­brant di­ver­sity is what Auck­land’s city-fringe sub­urbs are known for but the area is rapidly be­com­ing bland, state ten­ants say.

Fig­ures re­leased to the Auck­land City Har­bour News un­der the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act show Hous­ing New Zealand has sold 35 city-fringe houses in the last two years for $27.2 mil­lion.

It has bought one prop­erty in the area in that pe­riod – a 36-unit apart­ment in Free­mans Bay – at a cost of $12.8 mil­lion.

State ten­ant Bob Tait lives in the Spring St pen­sioner com­plex. It was of­fered up for re­de­vel­op­ment by Hous­ing New Zealand in Novem­ber. No plans for Spring St have been re­vealed as yet.

‘‘I see the ef­fect on peo­ple here. A lot of peo­ple tell me they wake in the mid­dle of the night, wor­ried and stressed,’’ Tait said.

‘‘It’s not just us, it’s a lot of Hous­ing New Zealand blocks right around the city.’’

Water­view res­i­dent Bill MacKay says the sale of cityfringe prop­er­ties is not sur­pris­ing but Hous­ing New Zealand is break­ing up com­mu­ni­ties by do­ing so.

MacKay is the as­so­ciate head of ar­chi­tec­ture at the Univer­sity of Auck­land and co-au­thored Beyond the State with writer and ar­chi­tect An­drea Stevens.

An ef­fort needs to be made to keep ten­ants in their com­mu­ni­ties, he says.

‘‘If you’re ra­tio­nal­is­ing the land in one area, don’t shift the peo­ple off.

‘‘Ra­tio­nalise the land by all means, we want to house more peo­ple and we want to spend our money smartly, but put the money back into the area so the support net­works are not bro­ken up.’’

West­mere state ten­ant Gael Bal­dock says ‘‘pep­per pot’’ state hous­ing has made her area suc­cess­ful.

‘‘When I moved into the city fringe area it was not a par­tic­u­larly de­sir­able area. It’s changed but only be­cause you’ve got th­ese peo­ple con­sid­ered to be char­ac­ters of the area that make it so di­verse.’’

Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board mem­ber Deb­o­rah Yates says she would like to see the $14 mil­lion dif­fer­ence be­tween the sale and pur­chase of state prop­er­ties put back into the city-fringe area.

Hous­ing New Zealand needs to work on main­tain­ing the prop­er­ties they still own in those sub­urbs, she says.

The board was aware of Hous­ing New Zealand sell­ing its city-fringe stock but no fig­ures had been re­leased un­til now, she says.

‘‘We feel very strongly that the fringe needs to main­tain a good cross-sec­tion of res­i­dents of all ages and in­come brack­ets.’’

Free­mans Bay Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion co-chair Lynne But­ler says the money needs to go to­wards hous­ing more Auck­lan­ders.

‘‘I’m as­sum­ing they would use it to buy a piece of land and build more apart­ments to house more peo­ple. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see if that’s re­ally what they’re go­ing to do.’’

Hous­ing New Zealand spokesper­son Bry­ony Hil­less says the profit from cityfringe prop­erty sales is rein­vested back into ar­eas of high de­mand such as Auck­land and Christchurch.

Many of the city-fringe houses sold re­cently were older prop­er­ties – some up to 80 years old – mak­ing them more ex­pen­sive to main­tain and of­ten sit­ting on large un­der-utilised sec­tions, she says.

Money from the sales is in­vested into build­ing hous­ing de­vel­op­ments such as a new 22-unit com­plex in Mt Roskill and prop­er­ties in North­ern Glen Innes, Hil­less says.

‘‘When we sell a va­cant prop­erty, we al­ways rein­vest the pro­ceeds from the sale in ac­quir­ing more homes that are fit for pur­pose and bet­ter meet the needs of ten­ants.’’

City life: State houses are be­ing sold in Auck­land’s city-fringe in favour of apart­ment build­ings.

Stress­ful times: Spring St res­i­dent Bob Tait says state ten­ants all over the city fringe are wor­ried.

Deb­o­rah Yates

Lynne But­ler

Bill McKay

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