Old may make way for new social housing

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013

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One of the Christchurch City Council's "old and cold" housing complexes in Spreydon could be demolished to make way for up to 144 new social housing units.

City council staff have identified a housing complex in Andrews Cres, built in 1953, as ripe for redevelopment and want the council to explore options for an innovative joint venture housing project on the site.

They believe that if the 36 bedsits on the site were demolished, 80 to 144 one and two-bedroom units could be built there.

However, with funds for new housing stock limited, the site will have to be redeveloped in stages.

The complex has been singled out for redevelopment because it is under-utilised and one of the most poorly performing housing complexes in the city.

In a report prepared for today's housing committee meeting, project manager Lee Sampson said the existing units had no underfloor or wall insulation and would require significant investment if retained.

They were "functionally obsolete" and placing a burden on the rents charged across the wider social housing portfolio.

By redeveloping Andrews Cres the council would take a "notable first step" in updating its "old and cold" stock.

As the first stage of the project, Sampson recommends the council seek proposals from its social housing partners for the replacement of the existing 36 units.

"The partnership aspect of this redevelopment will be designed to seek innovative options from the market to allow the creation of replacement units with minimal capital expenditure from the housing fund," Sampson said.

It is council policy that social housing is financially self-supporting and not funded from rates. In 2009, it applied to the Government for just over $84 million so that it could replace some of its old housing complexes, but its request was turned down.

There is only $8.8 million in the council's housing development fund for new social housing.

Housing committee chairman Cr Glenn Livingstone said the financial situation was tight, which was why the council was keen to explore opportunities for joint venture projects. It was having informal talks with social housing providers about the potential for future partnerships.

When asked whether it was possible for the council to put a fresh case to the Government for funding, Livingstone said: "We are not ruling it out. We would like to think the door is still open."

Before the quakes 17 housing complexes - of which Andrews Cres was one - had been identified by the council as poor performers, in need of replacement.

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The number now was probably higher, Livingstone said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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