Locals celebrate demise of drug house

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2014
Olliviers Road
IAIN MCGREGOR/ Fairfax NZ

CLOUD OF WASTE: A digger makes light work of a former gang house on Olliviers Road in Phillipstown, Christchurch.

Olliviers Road
IAIN MCGREGOR
BEFORE: A former gang house on Olliviers Road in Phillipstown, Christchurch.

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Landlord Adam Armstrong knew things were bad on Olliviers Rd when a gang member contacted him asking for a house, saying the street was "where we need to be".

Now, he and many other residents are celebrating one of the gang's former lodgings being reduced to rubble.

Armstrong, a member of the Phillipstown community safety panel and a landlord in the area for over a decade, brought up his son and two daughters in the suburb. He wants more people to do the same.

"It is a safe neighbourhood to bring up a family. It should be a place that young families buy in."

Since a neighbourhood policing team started concentrating solely on the suburb more than two years ago, Armstrong said it had undergone an impressive transformation.

"We've been trying to improve the neighbourhood over the last 10 years.

"The first block of flats we bought were full of drug dealers and junkies. We renovated it and let it out to language students."

Armstrong still owns six houses on "O-Street" - once well known for its gangs and drug houses.

"It got to the point where I had a gang ring and ask saying, 'We need to rent in O-Street, because that's where we need to be'."

Since then, all the drug houses Armstrong was aware of had been shut down, and the street was exhibiting a more community-friendly vibe.

The community safety panel, which works closely with the policing team, held regular meetings on "how to change the general perception of Phillipstown in the wider community".

Six new social housing units will replace the freshly-demolished drug house.

Police Senior Sergeant Phillip Dean said the area was undoubtedly safer now.

"It used to be an area that we visited when we were policing the law, but now when we go in there we're warmly welcomed by the community," he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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