17 May 2012

First-home buyer scheme ended at Hobsonville Point

10:41 am on 17 May 2012

Auckland Council plans to lobby for the re-instatement of an axed scheme to help first-home buyers into a big state-owned housing development.

The Gateway scheme at the Hobsonville Point development, launched three years ago with a promise of up to 100 affordable homes being available, has ended with only 17 of the homes built.

The scheme allowed lower-income buyers to pay for the house only, rather than both house and section, for most of the first decade.

Housing New Zealand, which owns the land and is overseeing the project, says no more Gateway homes will be built there.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley will make no comment, saying he will receive a report next month from the Department of Building and Housing.

Auckland's deputy mayor Penny Hulse says it is a further setback for those on lower incomes, following the earlier axing of planned state rental housing.

She says affordable housing is a major issue in Auckland, and buyer assistance should be available especially in a state-owned development.

The cheapest homes at the former Air Force base on the upper Waitemata Harbour are about $450,000.

Labour Party housing spokesperson Annette King said Prime Minister John Key has long been against the idea of homes for low-income buyers or tenants being part of the development.

She said said that in 2008 Mr Key, who is also the local MP, had described state housing as part of the mix at the Hobsonville Point as economic vandalism.

Ms King said the original concept for the development was to provide a mix ranging from upmarket homes to state rentals, and homes which first-home buyers could be helped into.

About 3000 properties will eventually be built in the development which is regarded as a model for well-planned medium-density housing in Auckland.