Va­grants at va­cant site

Central Leader - - NEWS - By LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

VA­GRANTS at an aban­doned state hous­ing com­plex in Mt Al­bert have neigh­bours call­ing for ac­tion.

The Hous­ing New Zealand site at 33 Asquith Ave has been empty for more than a year.

It is sit­u­ated in one of the Gov­ern­ment’s spe­cial hous­ing ar­eas, put in place across Auck­land to fast-track hous­ing devel­op­ment.

Hous­ing New Zealand has not re­leased any plans for devel­op­ment.

One 75-year-old neigh­bour, who asked not to be named, says living next door to the empty com­plex is fright­en­ing.

She has seen men jump­ing the fence and hid­ing in her gar­den mul­ti­ple times.

Hous­ing New Zealand re­moved a se­cu­rity light from the site in De­cem­ber which made the sit­u­a­tion worse, she says.

She has since in­stalled a se­cu­rity light in her gar­den.

The pen­sioner wrote to Hous­ing New Zealand in Jan­uary call­ing for se­cu­rity mea­sures to be stepped up.

‘‘I’m re­ally scared at night, I close the blinds be­fore dark and just lie in bed wait­ing for the se­cu­rity light to come on. The first cou­ple times I was scared, but the last cou­ple of times I was so an­gry.’’

Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer says the site has be­come a ‘‘mag­net’’ for crime.

The cur­rent fence does not go all the way around the perime­ter and there is a lack of light­ing and ad­e­quate se­cu­rity pa­trols, he says.

‘‘The main is­sue is that while there is in­de­ci­sion around very di­lap­i­dated build­ings here it’s go­ing to be a mag­net for trou­ble.’’

Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board chair­man Peter Haynes says work needs to hap­pen on the site to make res­i­dents feel safe.

‘‘Hous­ing New Zealand re­ally do need to get a move on. We can’t have th­ese older res­i­dents hav­ing var­i­ous mis­cre­ants us­ing their prop­er­ties.’’

An Asquith Ave Com­mu­nity Group has been formed to dis­sem­i­nate in­for­ma­tion about the devel­op­ment. The group is hop­ing to know the plans for the site in April, a spokesman says. But safety con­cerns should be ad­dressed im­me­di­ately, he says.

Avon­dale

po­lice

Se­nior Sergeant Simon Welsh says the Pon­sonby Com­mu­nity Polic­ing Team is aware of the safety con­cerns sur­round­ing Asquith Ave. It will begin foot pa­trols through the site in the next week in re­sponse to res­i­dents’ con­cerns.

Hous­ing New Zealand spokesman Neil Adams says se­cu­rity at the site is a work in progress.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives met with Asquith Ave neigh­bours last week to ad­dress safety con­cerns and are now look­ing at ad­di­tional se­cu­rity op­tions.

The units in the va­cant apart­ment block are boarded up and fenc­ing has been set up around the build­ing.

Hous­ing New Zealand’s se­cu­rity firm pa­trols the site reg­u­larly at night with greater fre­quency at the week­ends, he says.

The light­ing had to be dis­con­nected as the de­mo­li­tion will begin later this month, Adams says.

‘‘Mind­ful of the con­cerns that have been raised we are cur­rently look­ing at ad­di­tional op­tions for the next few weeks un­til de­mo­li­tion gets un­der way.

‘‘We are also re­view­ing se­cu­rity/us­age op­tions for the site post-de­mo­li­tion and, not­ing the feed­back we’ve re­ceived, will ad­vise res­i­dents once th­ese have been agreed.’’

The com­pany is not yet ready to re­lease plans for devel­op­ment.

Photo: LAU­REN PRI­EST­LEY

Se­cu­rity con­cerns: A res­i­dent speaks to Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer at the bound­ary of an empty state house com­plex on Asquith Ave.

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