A social housing project aimed at rejuvenating Hamilton's Enderley community has won praise from city leaders for its vision and innovative use of public spaces.
Representatives from Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa yesterday presented plans to the city council's community forum subcommittee for a 2.2 hectare housing project on vacant land along Shakespeare Ave and Tennyson Rd.
The purchased land previously belonged to Housing New Zealand.
Te Runanga o Kirikiriroa chief executive Mere Balzer said the housing project was at the preliminary design stage but the focus was on creating affordable homes in a supportive whanau environment. About 75 new homes would be built at the two sites.
Ms Balzer said the runanga, a Hamilton Maori social service provider, aimed to support low-income whanau through home ownership initiatives and also provide quality rental properties.
Two-thirds of homes in the Enderley project would be either be pre-sold or have shared equity (rent to buy). The other third would be for rent.
Ms Balzer said the development would bring together families and the elderly and was broadly based on the concept of a village around a communal field.
Dwellings would back onto shared gardens and play spaces, and sections would not be carved up by boundary fences 2 metres high.
"What has always concerned us is that families live next door to each other and they don't talk to each other. So if a family is going to pieces they don't have anyone to talk to," she said.
"The whole aim of what we are trying to do is engender a sense of community where people look after each other."
Councillor Martin Gallagher said he was inspired by the project as it was "not just about bricks and mortar" but about communities.
Ms Balzer said the project could rejuvenate the Enderley community.
Councillor Leo Tooman said the housing project was similar to Scandinavian models which developed communities with no boundary fences. Residents in those communities talked to each other, he said, and the result was a reduction in crime.
Enderley resident Maree Pene, who has lived in the suburb for 40 years, said the housing project was a return to how families use to live.
"This is returning to how things were. You have families who will want to come back here as part of the community rebuild," she said.