D-Day for housing plan
Lower Hutt councillors will tonight make one of the most important decisions of their political career.
The politicians are considering a range of changes to the District Plan rules around housing that, if implemented, would forever change the way the city looks.
A lack of housing for young families has forced the Hutt City Council to look at the proposals.
Mayor Ray Wallace believes the changes are critical to the future prosperity of the city.
‘‘Our concern is that we don’t have sufficient housing or the right type of housing to satisfy our current population, let alone the growth we are now starting to see.’’
Rapidly rising house prices, a lack of land and a narrow selection in the type of houses being built, were major problems facing families who wanted to live in Lower Hutt, Wallace said.
A range of council projects under way – including a conference centre and hotel, Fraser Park Sportsville and turning the city towards the river – were aimed at rejuvenating the city.
The cost ran to hundreds of millions and Wallace said the expenditure needed to be backed by a growth in population.
‘‘The cold reality is that if we fail to solve this problem (housing) in a thoughtful and planned way, council’s rejuvenation strategies won’t be fully realised and our economy and our collective quality of life will suffer. A business-as-usual approach would be irrational.’’
Infill housing and three-storey houses represent a big change for an area that has marketed itself as ‘‘a garden city’’ attractive to young families.
The council has been weighing up its options to change the rules around housing for some years but the changes are likely to face stern opposition from existing homeowners, who will argue they will devalue their property.
In 2013 the council also floated the idea of rezoning a large part of rural Wainuiomata as residential.
A furious response from rural land owners forced a backdown but Wallace said the council had to now look at that option.
Last week he posted a summary of the possible changes on social media. The response was mixed with one Naenae resident calling for a greater range of housing styles. ‘‘We are looking at leaving the valley I’ve always called home. We just can’t afford to buy what we need to house our family here and there is no land to build anything.’’
Woburn resident Des Darby spoke to a recent District Plan meeting on housing opposing infill and three-storey housing.
‘‘I think the idea of a threestorey building, one metre from an existing house, is totally unacceptable.’’
‘‘What mum and dad wants to walk up three flights of stairs, with their shopping and babies? It will become lower class housing.’’
The District Plan changes will be discussed by the council tonight. The public will have four months to make submissions.
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