Homes to be demolished for carpark

7:18 am on 24 March 2016

Residents living at the edge of a large Auckland park say they are frustrated and confused why their homes are being demolished to build a carpark.

Monte Cecilia Park before it's expansion. More than a dozen households have to leave their council-owned rental homes, so that they can be demolished to expand Monte Cecilia Park in Mount Roskill.

Monte Cecilia Park before it's expansion. Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan

More than a dozen households are having to leave their council-owned rental homes, so that they can be demolished to expand Monte Cecilia Park in Mount Roskill.

Fourteen households have been given 90 days notice to find new homes in the city's overheated housing market.

The park expansion project was launched nearly 20 years ago by the former Auckland City Council, and $38 million has been spent buying adjoining land.

One of the houses on Korma Road to be demolished for a new car park.

One of the houses on Korma Road to be demolished for a new car park. Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan

The real cost was considerably higher, as a confidentiality agreement with the Catholic Church hides the price of two other land deals.

The church's Monte Cecilia School has been relocated at ratepayers' expense, and the council was progressively buying the 25-unit Liston Village for the elderly, for demolition.

The council's Puketapapa Local Board launched a campaign last year to save the Liston Village from demolition when the last tenancy ends, perhaps a decade away.

The board's chair Julie Fairey was not happy about the move to clear the tenant's homes.

"I personally feel pretty sick about it, and disappointed that we had no choice but to do this. That's the advice we had been given and I feel we exhausted the internal opportunities we have to challenge it," Ms Fairey said.

Several of the homes on Korma Rd would become carparks for the expanded Monte Cecilia Park.

Pip Hartley has lived on the quiet cul-de-sac for nearly a year with her 4-year-old daughter, who often played with her neighbours' kids in the driveway.

Pip Hartley and her daughter have to leave their council-owned rental homes, so that they can be demolished to expand Monte Cecilia Park in Mount Roskill.

Pip Hartley and her daughter now have 90 days to find a new home. Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan

On Monday, she received a letter from Auckland Council telling her she had 90 days to move.

"I don't want to move, I really don't want to move, I love it here.

"They've actually just renovated this whole house. I made them, because it was in such an unlivable state before," Ms Hartley said.

But once again, she was having to face Auckland's simmering rental market.

"I've just spent the whole day looking for houses on Trade Me, and there's nothing, nothing within our price range for one, and nothing that's really practical or suitable for our lifestyle.

"I also had hope they'd come to their senses and realise we're actually in a housing crisis in Auckland City, and make some more sensible choices, not for like, carparks."

Ms Hartley said the council would change their minds if they came down and met the people affected.

"Come and meet us, come and see our homes and meet the people of this little community that we have here, and decide for yourselves what the right thing to do is.

"They should be creating an organisation that could create events and community projects for the park, to create more awareness for the park," she said.

The council has offered the residents a reference, but Ms Hartley said that was not going to find her a new home.

One couple who lived on Korma Road for three years told RNZ News they don't understand why their house needed to be demolished, and said their search for a new home in their price range had been futile.

Another woman said she had been there with her family for 10 years, and was still processing how she could now find a place that was affordable, and a new school for her six-year-old daughter.

The perimeter homes to be demolished over the next six months had been bought during the past decade, and had been occupied on short-term tenancies. The most recent was bought this year.

Auckland Council chief of strategy Jim Quinn said the notices to move out should not be a surprise.

"I don't know that they knew it was this day, now, but these arrangements were in place right from the start, knowing this day would come," he said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints across the road has a large carpark, but a church spokesman told RNZ News its' property managers had not been approached by the council to discuss sharing it.

The Auckland Council said it would provide what help it could to tenants seeking a new home, and would be flexible about notice requirements.

Monte Cecilia Park was intended to become a "premier" city park, and included the historic Pah Homestead, now home to the James Wallace Arts Trust collection.

The Auckland Council would not say whether more land was intended to be bought, although a concept plan produced by the council showed a much larger park than currently existed.

Mr Quinn said it was time for the council to move on with the park's development.

"This was a decision made with very good intent, and it's important now that we deliver what was intended. I think the park outcome of this will be a very good outcome," he said.