Affordable housing on the block

BUILDING HOMES: John Long is a trustee of the Long Family Trust which is behind Massey’s McWhirter Block development.
BUILDING HOMES: John Long is a trustee of the Long Family Trust which is behind Massey’s McWhirter Block development.

John Long was 27 when he first got on the property ladder.

The responsibility of having a mortgage is a memory that has stuck with him.

Now the property developer is hoping some of his McWhirter Block houses on Westgate Drive will be snapped up by first-home buyers.

Mr Long is a Long Family Trust trustee and one of the first to take advantage of the Auckland Housing Accord. Introduced last year by the Auckland Council and the Government, it aims to tackle Auckland's housing supply by building an extra 39,000 houses in the next three years.

The 16-hectare area was designated a special housing area (SHA) last year which means its resource consents will be fast-tracked for 230 new homes on the sites.

In order to qualify as an SHA, 10 per cent of the houses must be sold at an "affordable" rate which the council has calculated to be 75 per cent of the median house price, or about $475,000 or less.

Council housing projects director Ree Anderson describes Mr Long's plans for the area as holistic.

"He is looking at a masterplan of his remaining unconsented land with an idea of the overall vision for the property," she says.

"This includes roading, lot sizes to determine the types of housing and location of affordable homes."

Mr Long believes intensification should not be at the cost of affordability or good urban design. This is the first subdivision of its kind he has tackled and he says though it means more planning and money up front, it is worth it for each house to have a good aesthetic relationship with one another.

"The masterplan builds on the key strengths of the site - its north-facing sunny aspect, the centrally located Tihema Stream, the adjacent landscaped open spaces and links to the town centre and public transport," he says.

"I sincerely hope people look at it as a good development, a good community in which to live."

Five roads have been extended or purpose built for the development with a further three streets planned.

Mr Long says the houses will all face the street.

The most intense housing will be terraces which will range through to standalone houses with double garages.

Thousands of native trees and shrubs have also been planted in a reserve which will be among the houses.

Final designs are still being prepared but Mr Long is expecting the project to be finished in five years.

Norwest News