16 Dec 2016

Special Housing Areas, but where are all the houses?

From Checkpoint, 5:09 pm on 16 December 2016

A Special Housing Area in Auckland is yet to have a single home built - three years after it was announced with great fanfare.

The 14h site in New Lynn had space set aside for both private and state homes, and was one of 11 Special Housing Areas (SHA) announced by Housing Minister Nick Smith and then-Auckland Mayor Len Brown in December 2013.

It was hailed as “real progress” towards solving the housing crisis.

The first homes were expected to be built within three years, but so far only foundations for a small number of homes have been laid.

Demolition began on state homes on Thom Street, part of the SHA, on Monday, despite Housing New Zealand (HNZ) yet to even have the designs for the homes completed.

HNZ has asked for registrations of interest to design and build the homes on the government’s tendering website.

It said it would have the first ones built by December 2013.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei called the government a “demolition company”.

“It’s appalling that the government is allowing existing homes that people can live in right now to be demolished without any genuine plan to replace those homes,” she said.

HNZ acknowledged the development has not kept to schedule, but said it was “satisfied with the current progress of the development”.

A spokesperson for Housing Minister Nick Smith said: “There can never be a guarantee that every privately owned SHA is developed or on time as there can be all sorts of reasons why a particular project has not progressed. The SHA mechanism is about quickly passing the planning hurdle.”

The site's current developer, Avanda Limited, declined to speak to Checkpoint, but in a statement last year said the first homes would be ready by December 2016.

Auckland Council and Housing New Zealand both declined to provide a timeline for when the homes will be completed.