Where are we moving to?

IN LIMBO: Maraea Clark and Jane Nicolson want to know what the future holds for Spring St.
IN LIMBO: Maraea Clark and Jane Nicolson want to know what the future holds for Spring St.

The clock is ticking for rattled state home pensioners who thought they'd moved to Spring St for the rest of their lives.

A Housing New Zealand (HNZ) complex of 42 one-bedroom units in Freemans Bay has been open for redevelopment expressions of interest (EOI) since November. The tender notice closed on Monday.

Pensioner Jane Nicolson says tenants just want to know the outcome.

The 65-year-old Spring St resident says some of her neighbours are in their late 80s and are frail and vulnerable.

She is helping organise a protest march through central Auckland next week to put a spotlight on the issue.

"It's such a worry for us . . . we need to know what's going to happen."

Mrs Nicolson says she was told by HNZ that all tenants would be moved out eventually and wouldn't return to Spring St even if redevelopment took place. Other residents have been told nothing at all, she says."No one knows the full story. This is a nice home so why pull it down?"

Her sister Maraea Clark of Whanganui is staying in Auckland to help "raise an army" to save the Spring St village. "These people thought they were going to be here forever but now they are going to be relocated. This is their life, this is their home," she says.

Tenant Lisa Tamati, 63, says she heard rumours five years ago that Spring St would be redeveloped.

She then noticed the property wasn't being maintained properly anymore.

Then came the HNZ letters late last year.

"It was quite a sad Christmas. People were walking around like lost souls.

"It's all in limbo at the moment and everyone just wants to know where they are going."

But one 90-year-old resident is looking on the bright side, saying at least pensioners will be relocated rather than thrown out on the street.

"I'm not looking forward to it but there's no good getting a heart attack about what will happen."

Housing New Zealand general manager Sean Bignell says a number of the corporation's central Auckland properties, including Spring St, could be more effectively used.

The EOI request offers a possible mix of social and private housing and is the first step in the redevelopment process, he says.

"The site in Freemans Bay offers many possibilities for better, more modern housing.

"Not surprisingly, given the proximity to the CBD, good public transport connections and other services in the area, there is strong demand for a range of housing in Freemans Bay."

No decision has been made, he says. The organisation will not disclose details of the EOI responses due to commercial sensitivity.

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers says the first priority should be the residents but, in principle, the board supports the need for housing intensification in Auckland.

HNZ plans to lease back 42 units at the site if redevelopment goes ahead, he says.

The board has organised regular meetings with HNZ so it can keep up with its plans for inner-city tenants.

"There are a lot of human circumstances and resident sensitivities and, quite rightly, concerns about an uncertain future.

"Spring St, although a lovely home for many, and residents keep it wonderfully maintained, is a large site.

"It would be good to know when plans are made so we can help residents instead of receiving a letter afterwards."

Auckland City Harbour News