Five-storey unit for dis­abled

The Hutt News - - FRONT PAGE - NI­CHOLAS BOYACK

‘‘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

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