Low-rent flats’ future still up in the air
The future of council-owned flats in Titahi Bay remain in limbo, thanks to the Public Works Act.
A decision on whether Porirua City Council would sell the 26 lowrent Moana Court flats to a social service provider or retain ownership and management was expected at a meeting last week.
However, Moana Ct residents Dave Fletcher and Robert Overend raised section 40 of the Public Works Act (PWA), which states land ‘‘no longer required for a public work’’ must be first offered back to the former owners or their successors first.
The council’s chief executive Gary Simpson said the PWA was a ‘‘ difficult piece of legislation’’ and issues such as the change in land use under the council’s ownership – from farming to social housing – had to be considered.
Questions from councillors ‘‘can’t be answered’’ without legal advice, he said.
PCC strategy and planning general manager Moira Lawler said going back to the original owners – believed to be a long-standing Titahi Bay family – could take some time.
‘‘Under the [PWA] they would be invited to buy the property at market value.’’
Councillor Euon Murrell still wanted to progress the proposed sell of the flats to a social service provider and took umbrage at comments Mr Fletcher and Mr Overend had made to the media.
‘‘They have inferred a number of things and there is scaremongering going on that is not helping this process.
‘‘The petition [ Mr Fletcher has organised to stop any sale of Moana Court] is misleading and I support the actions of this council.’’
It was decided, after advice from Mr Simpson, that the statement of proposal to lease or sell the flats would lie on the table, with another report – containing legal opinions – expected back in a month’s time.
The proposal notes PCC’s desire for ongoing social housing provided at Moana Court, but says this is not ‘‘ an effective use of ratepayer funding’’ for the future.
Rent is 70 per cent of the market rates and while $630,000 was set aside for upgrades in the 2009-19 PCC Long Term Plan, this has been slashed to $350,000 in the 2012-22 plan for ‘‘ urgent maintenance’’ only.
These funds could only be found by increasing rates, council or the rent charged, according to the proposal.
Mr Fletcher said sale of Moana Ct could lead to a ‘‘national scandal’’ as the council could not guarantee what new owners would do with the flats.
Following the decision to postpone any ruling, he said there was still ‘‘zero certainty’’ for residents who would be subjected to another month of ‘‘waiting and watching’’.
Councillor Euon Murrell