Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate is urging Kainga Ora to run a “wholly transparent process” and ‘public involvement’ in its proposal to build 70 new homes in Flagstaff.
She wants the state housing agency to opt for a publicly notified resource consent, saying anything else would be unacceptable given the high level of interest in the plan.
“People have every right to be heard and Kainga Ora needs to make that option available to them – not just via informal engagement as they are doing now but also as part of a publicly notified consent process,” she said.
Southgate said she has received huge feedback on the proposal – in support and against.
Kainga Ora, formerly Housing New Zealand, wants to build a mixture of apartments and standalone houses on Crown-owned land in Endeavour Ave. The homes, on two hectares next to the Flagstaff shops, would be a mix of publicly owned and state-owned housing. Kainga Ora announced the proposal last Thursday after providing details to Hamilton City Councillors earlier in the day.
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These 70 new homes will consist of 29 two- bedroom apartments, 32 three- bedroom homes, eight 4-bedroom homes and one 5- bedroom home. These houses will be allocated to eligible individuals and families on the Ministry of Social Development’s Housing Register.
Several concerned residents are already up in arms, and a backlash is expected to Kainga Ora’s public housing proposal. The proposal has not found favours even with the Hamilton East MP, David Bennett who expects ‘total outrage’ from the community. Hamilton List MP, Jamie Strange,however, is yet to take up a stand on this issue.
Mayor Southgate,however, believes as the landowner Kainga Ora has the same rights as other developers to develop their land. But rights come with responsibilities and that included a responsibility to take community views into account.
“Council cannot force them to do undertake a publicly notified process, but Councillors will take a very dim view of anything less than total transparency and public involvement in this issue,” she says.
Any housing developments must be sensitive to surrounding areas and be mindful of the effects on existing residents.
“There is no doubt we need more housing in Hamilton, particularly affordable housing, and that is something I am acutely aware of. I’m not against high-density housing, as long as it’s good quality housing in the most appropriate place. But we should be building communities, not just housing. There’s an important difference, particularly because there is an existing community already there, ”Mayor Southgate adds.
Mayor Southgate is encouraging those interested in the proposal to engage directly with Kainga Ora and make their views heard early in the process.