Housing NZ better option than third party for vacant New Plymouth land sale, Labour Party candidate says
New Plymouth Labour candidate Corie Haddock has called for vacant land in Marfell to be retained by Housing New Zealand, and not sold to a third party, for development.
Haddock said it was preferable the land was instead developed into affordable housing by HNZC, and not by a private developer.
"I've got no issue with the developer, I understand they have good intentions to develop social housing in the area but once the land is sold to a private buyer it will never again be owned by the people of New Zealand," he said.
"Housing New Zealand has the resources and ability to develop the land more effectively for the residents."
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Haddock said he wanted to make a "final plea" to New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young and HNZC to reconsider the options.
Building homes in Marfell is about investing back into a community who have been ignored by the government for nine years, he said.
"Building homes for families should never be just about financial viability."
Rather than selling the land, the government should invest in the Marfell community, its residents and their future, he said.
Haddock said a decision on the future of the land on Banks Street and Discovery Place was "imminent."
HNZC were in discussion with a third party to sell the land for development to build affordable homes for first home buyers, he said.
"I'm conscious of an impending announcement that a third party, not-for-profit group are in ongoing negotiations with the government to buy the land.
"I don't think this is the best case scenario and if it happens the land can no longer be utilised by New Zealanders.
"The better option is to keep the land in the hands of Housing New Zealand to develop."
Haddock said an earlier plan which was canned to build houses in the area would now be soaking up the significant demand for low cost housing in the city.
A "significant proposal" to build arose in 2009 and then put aside five years later due to a lack of demand for housing, he said.
"Those houses would be on stream now and we wouldn't have people unable to find a place to live.
"Housing New Zealand should do what they originally planned and build houses.
"The proposal was canned because it was considered by Housing New Zealand there was no demand and the project was not cost effective.
"It's not about being cost effective, people need to be housed.
"The issue is that the proposal sat for five years without anything done about it and the only solution has been to sell it to a third party."
Haddock said he was constantly being rung by people wanting a house to rent and live in.
National MP for New Plymouth Jonathan Young said a third party housing trust would make better utilisation of the land.
Young said the issue for Housing NZ was that it had 'too many houses in the wrong places."
The demand for housing was in Auckland, not in New Plymouth where demand had dropped off, he said.
If HNZC sold its assets in New Plymouth to a housing trust there was the opportunity to provide attractive affordable homes in Marfell, and also meet the demand in Auckland.
"New housing in Marfell would make it a more attractive proposition for the area."
Young said it was a huge disappointment to the community that vacant homes in Marfell had been vandalised.
HNZC was committed to helping make Marfell a "vibrant, attractive suburb, Housing NZ Central Region portfolio manager Graeme Broderick said in a written statement.
Housing NZ were in discussion with a Taranaki-based community organisation about the "potential purchase" of around three hectares of our land in the area which includes 21 vacant properties, he said.
"The intention is to carry out a regeneration project in Marfell with support from a range of partners to transform the area and provide affordable housing opportunities.
"There are a range of complexities in a transaction of this nature and Catalyst are working through a due diligence process.'
The community and stakeholders would be updated 'as discussions progress," he said.
Housing NZ managed 965 social housing properties in New Plymouth, he said.
This was enough homes to meet the moderate level of demand for social housing in the area.
The Ministry of Social Development's Social Housing Register said Housing NZ housed 122 families in New Plymouth in the 12 months to May 31.
- Taranaki Daily News