Five-storey unit for disabled
‘‘It makes sense to build disability friendly homes in this location because it is near the hospital and has easy access to local shops and transport links.’’
A new five-storey unit for the disabled is on the cards for Epuni as Housing New Zealand moves to build as many as 330 new homes in Lower Hutt.
The 28-unit Epuni complex will be on the site of an earthquakeprone HNZ building on the corner of Oxford Tce and Mitchell St.
A flyer sent to neighbours said it was for the disabled and included a lift, and a communal area for mobility scooters. As well as the multi-storey complex, HNZ is planning two standalone twobedroom homes and two fourbedroom homes on the site.
Neighbours have been told the site is a good one for HNZ tenants.
‘‘It makes sense to build dis- ability friendly homes in this location because it is near the hospital and has easy access to local shops and transport links,’’ the flyer said.
The development was news to Mayor Ray Wallace, despite attending a recent meeting with HNZ, where he was told no plans were available. There was a clear need for social housing for the disabled but he was uncertain about whether a five-storey complex was the best option.
In July, the then-social housing minister, Amy Adams, announced plans to build and refurbish up to 700 homes in Lower Hutt over the next five years.
HNZ now has resource consent to build 26 new homes in Naenae, as well as two in Waterloo and two in Taita. Construction is expected to begin shortly, with the first homes finished by mid-2018.
The Naenae site, was the scene of a church-based protest in April that attracted up to 500 people. Protest organiser, the Reverend Martin Robinson, said at the time it had reinforced his view that urgent acting was required.
‘‘I knew it was a crisis but I did not know just how bad it was ... scores of folk talked about their own personal experience of living in garages or cars, or jammed in overcrowded houses.‘‘
Planning is also underway at a number of Lower Hutt sites, including Epuni, which together could provide 330 new homes. HNZ held a meeting on Saturday to get community feedback on the future of 1.88 hectares of vacant land in Epuni, which has the potential for 200 new homes.
Area manager Stephen Wilson said before HNZ began detailed planning it wanted to hear from the local community. ‘‘That’s why we’ve been talking with the local school, kindergarten, social service agencies and other local stakeholders to identify how the redevelopment can help the community to be vibrant and sustainable.’’
Wallace was pleased HNZ was making progress, as housing was a major problem in the city. He hoped HNZ would look at providing a range of accommodation and the need for housing families was not overlooked. He recently met with Labour list MP Ginny Andersen, and both agreed that building houses was a priority.
See Home Owner Pressured, p4 Feels