7 Jul 2016

'Selling is not an option'

5:58 am on 7 July 2016

Local groups in South Auckland are wary of a district health board proposal to sell nearly 11 hectares of prime land back to the government for a possible housing development.

In a public notice published yesterday, Counties Manukau DHB said the vacant land next to its Manukau Superclinic, near the suburb of Wiri, might not be needed for future health services.

The Counties Manukau "super-clinic" off Great South Road near Browns Road.

The land is next to the clinic, off Great South Road near Browns Road. Photo: Counties Manukau Health

The clinic took up about a quarter of the site and the DHB said even future expansions were unlikely to use up all the available land.

It was now seeking feedback on what to do with the site instead.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the land could have space for up to 250 new houses and it made no sense for the land to remain vacant.

"My hope is that the South Auckland community realises the pressure we have around housing, and why it makes sense for this land that's been vacant for more than 20 years to be picked up on [the government's housing] programme and to be used for homes for that community."

Manukau ward councillor Arthur Anae said he was opposed to any sale of the DHB's land.

As well as housing, Auckland's growing population would need expanded health and education services, he said.

Once sold, it would be difficult to get the land back.

"This is a very valuable piece of land that we've got there... For me, selling is not an option unless we're going to replace it with land somewhere else for the future," Mr Anae said.

The one-off payment the DHB would receive would simply be swallowed up, he said.

"The proceeds of a land sale which just goes into the operating costs of the hospital just means that next year the government will cut our budget accordingly to make sure we use that money for health services," Mr Anae said.

There was sufficient other land in the area for housing without gobbling up hospital land, he said.

Manurewa local board chair Angela Dalton said she supported the vacant land being used for housing, but had reservations.

"What we need to make sure of is that Auckland Council ensure that there's good social and amenity infrastructure for our people that are going to be living in those homes - we can't just keep packing people in without good amenity."

The new development would be sandwiched between two existing areas - Wiri and Rata Vine - that already suffer from their location and lack of investment, Ms Dalton said.

"The community of Wiri are living between two state highways [in] an industrial area; it is swampy, it is cold, they are very low-income families.

"Rata Vine [is] similar in the context of families who are in need... So I do think a new housing development is at risk if it's not well-served," she said.

Dr Smith did not want to see that happen.

"The government's social housing programme is very much around moving away from the 100 percent state housing estates that you have in some of the adjacent areas," he said.

Housing New Zealand was looking at redeveloping some of the areas surrounding the site, Dr Smith said.

Public feedback on the DHB proposal closes on 5 August.