De­vel­op­ment con­cern

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAUREN PRI­EST­LEY

THE re­de­vel­op­ment of a Hous­ing New Zealand property in Mt Al­bert has put neigh­bours on edge.

The Asquith Ave property is part of group of govern­ment ‘‘spe­cial hous­ing ar­eas’’ up for de­vel­op­ment.

The 8000 square me­tre property in Asquith Ave in­cludes old ho­tel build­ings that were pur­chased by HNZ sev­eral decades ago and have been va­cant since Novem­ber.

HNZ plans to re­de­velop the site de­spite real es­tate agents ap­proach­ing it to sell the land.

Mt Al­bert Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion co-chair­man Fran­cis Mor­timer says the com­mu­ni­ca­tion process has been ‘‘dicey’’.

Res­i­dents were orig­i­nally sent a let­ter from the coun­cil stat­ing only 10 units would be built on the site.

The coun­cil later said that was a ‘‘typo’’ and 30 to 40 units would go up, Mor­timer says. The SHA al­lows up to 80 units to be built on the site.

‘‘It’s a huge dif­fer­ence to what we were orig­i­nally told.

‘‘There’s a lot of con­cern about the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion with neigh­bours there.

‘‘We un­der­stand there are no plans there yet, but they [HNZ] must have some idea of what could go in there.’’

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board chair­man Peter Haynes says Asquith Ave will be a ‘‘test case’’. Neigh­bours have con­cerns about the height of the de­vel­op­ment, trees on the property, the ten­ant mix, a path that cuts from Asquith Ave to Burch St and a stone wall that dates back to the 1860s, he says.

‘‘They should by now have de­cided what sort of ten­ant mix they’ll be look­ing for. That’s the first de­ci­sion.’’

Al­bert-Eden-Roskill coun­cil­lor Dr Cathy Casey says more needs to be done by coun­cil­lors to se­cure ten­ants’ rights dur­ing any HNZ re­de­vel­op­ment.

A Me­moran­dum of Un­der­stand­ing is be­ing drawn up be­tween the coun­cil and HNZ to dis­cuss ways to in­crease hous­ing stock, pro­vide choice to ten­ants and en­hance com­mu­nity en­gage­ment.

The dis­cus­sions will be be­tween HNZ and the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive but it should be with a work­ing group of coun­cil­lors, Casey says.

She wants HNZ to prom­ise more so­cial hous­ing in Auck­land and re­serve the right for ten­ants to re­turn to an area if they are moved out be­cause of re­de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘If I had known this was go­ing to hap­pen I wouldn’t have agreed to those SHAs. I feel like I’ve been duped.

‘‘Our SHAs are get­ting all mixed up with HNZ ten­ancy re­views. Many ten­ants are feel­ing anx­ious and dis­em­pow­ered. If we don’t get HNZ to com­mit to some bot­tom lines, we’re just adding to the whole sit­u­a­tion.’’

HNZ spokes­woman Bry­ony Hil­less says no de­signs have been re­leased for the Asquith Ave site. HNZ will try to en­sure ten­ants can re­turn to an area if they want to.

But pri­or­ity will be given to those who need to ac­cess fa­cil­i­ties nearby, she says.


What next: An old ho­tel on Asquith Ave owned by Hous­ing New Zealand is await­ing de­vel­op­ment.

Fran­cis Mor­timer

Cathy Casey

Peter Haynes

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