‘Affordable’ housing boost

This picture from Google Earth shows the 1.4ha site tagged for affordable housing.

Public housing Crown agency Kainga Ora will buy 1.4ha of land in Te Awamutu to develop affordable housing for people aged 55 years and over.

The land at 1262 Cambridge Road, part of a 3.7ha parcel owned by Waipā District Council since 2017, will have 30 dwellings built on it within two years.

The $2.683 million purchase gives ratepayers a good capital gain – the council paid $690,000 for the land when it identified it as an ideal location for affordable housing.

Deputy chief executive Ken Morris told councillors this week the council had considered how it might use the property.

It did apply to a fund that central Government funded but was unsuccessful.

Soon after that, and post Covid when the housing crisis grew legs, Kainga Ora approached the council with an offer to buy part of the land to build affordable housing.

In October last year, councillors gave tentative approval subject to community consultation.

That occurred with 57 per cent in support, 12 per cent partially supportive and 31 per cent against.

“Staff believe this recommendation is sound. It is consistent with our intent,” said Morris.

The land would still be used for its original purpose.

Susan O’Regan

“My word of warning, this is something council will have to maintain an interest in,” said Morris, with council taking some sort of community advocacy role.

Deputy mayor Liz Stolwyk said she liked the time frames put on the sale by council which meant construction would start in less than two years.

“This will bring houses to those who need it. It will then set the scene, set the tone for that development.”

She wanted to see a priority put on people who had strong family links to Te Awamutu and Waipā.

“Those who have whanau in Waipā should be prioritised.”

Urban design was something the district had not quite “nailed”, she said, so asked for staff to consider an urban design panel made up of experts who could tweak designs to suit the district needs and work with Kainga Ora.

“We’ve got more developments to come,” she said so it would be important.

Mayor Susan O’Regan said there were many benefits to the sale.

“We can’t please everybody, but we can’t be blind to people’s needs.”

In a media release, the council said proceeds from the sale would repay council debt on the original purchase and go towards community projects.

The council will also assess the highest and best purpose use of the remaining 2.3ha.

Meanwhile a show home is about to open in the Bridge Housing Charitable Trust development on the outskirts of Cambridge in Peake Road. It uses a leasehold model in which the owner buys the house and pays rent on the land.

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