D-Day for hous­ing plan

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - NICHOLAS BOYACK

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.

See YOU SAY page 3

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