May­ors call for ac­tion over hous­ing

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - JAMES PAUL

Ap­ply­ing more pres­sure to politi­cians and Hous­ing New Zealand is one way Porirua mayor Mike Tana be­lieves res­i­dents will get ac­cess to more af­ford­able houses.

His com­ments came dur­ing a re­cent Welling­ton Re­gion’s Lead­ers Panel, com­pris­ing may­ors Justin Lester (Welling­ton), Ray Wal­lace (Lower Hutt), and Wayne Guppy (Up­per Hutt), and Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil chair Chris Laid­law.

Re­gional coun­cil­lor Roger Blake­ley asked the panel how each re­gion was responding to in­creas­ing de­mand for af­ford­able houses and their plans to boost over­all hous­ing sup­ply.

Tana told a packed CQ Ho­tel room that buy­ing houses in today’s mar­ket was much harder than a decade ago, and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and res­i­dents needed to be vo­cal about the is­sue ahead of the gen­eral elec­tion.

‘‘We do have to put heaps of pres­sure on both Hous­ing New Zealand and now that there is an elec­tion com­ing up. We have to put the pres­sure on for more af­ford­able hous­ing. We will have chil­dren that will want houses - it’s not the same thing that we had 10 years ago. It’s a real is­sue for ev­ery­one right across New Zealand.’’

In an­swer to Blake­ley’s ques­tion, Wal­lace spoke openly about Lower Hutt Coun­cil’s re­la­tion­ship with the crown agency, and its va­cant land in the re­gion and the lack of plans for it.

‘‘We are work­ing with Hous­ing New Zealand, but it’s fair to say, and no dis­re­spect to them, they have been a yacht that has had their an­chor off the end of the boat. They have been drag­ging the chain a bit.

‘‘We have had a num­ber of [Lower Hutt] prop­er­ties that have been re­moved or de­mol­ished as earthquake risks that have had a va­cant plan, [and the coun­cil] wanted to try part­ner with [Hous­ing NZ]. The an­swer was no, we even tried to pur­chase the land off of them, the an­swer was no.

‘‘The big thing is, the elec­tion is com­ing up - both our two main po­lit­i­cal par­ties said they are com­mit­ted to build­ing more so­cial hous­ing in the Hutt Val­ley, which is a re­ally good sig­nal.’’

A Hous­ing NZ spokesper­son said in a state­ment that the agency is work­ing on devel­op­ment op­tions for va­cant land in Lower Hutt.

‘‘Hous­ing New Zealand meets with Lower Hutt Coun­cil reg­u­larly to dis­cuss is­sues such as our over­all devel­op­ment strat­egy for Lower Hutt and the coun­cil’s re­view of its dis­trict plan. Our in­ten­tion is to de­velop our va­cant land in the Lower Hutt area.’’

The agency have pre­pared de­tailed de­signs and have be­gun the con­sent­ing process for four sites, the spokesper­son said.

‘‘We ex­pect to be in a po­si­tion to share our plans with the com­mu­nity soon. Most of the land is sub­ject to a right of first re­fusal from iwi, which means it’s not pos­si­ble to sim­ply sell it to the coun­cil.’’

PHOTO: JAMES PAUL/FAIR­FAX

Porirua, Lower and Up­per Hutt, and Welling­ton may­ors, with Greater Welling­ton Re­gional Coun­cil chair Chris Laid­law, dis­cussed top­ics in­clud­ing in­fra­struc­ture, road­ing, and amal­ga­ma­tion.

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