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Te Awa Lakes housing plan stalls – Stuff

PERRY GROUP

An aerial view of the site of the proposed Te Awa Lakes development (FILE).

The application to fast-track a riverside housing development has sat languishing on a Government desk for nine months.

The plan is to build 1000 homes – at least 400 of them affordable – on a piece of triangular land in Horotiu owned by Perry Group.

In June, Hamilton City Council voted to send a special housing area application for the site, Te Awa Lakes, to central Government for approval.

But nine months on, the developers and the council are in the dark as to what is happening.

DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Te Awa Lakes development director Lale Ieremia and Perry Group chief executive Richard Coventry spoke about the process around special housing areas at a Hamilton City Council meeting on Thursday.

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Earlier in the week, the Government confirmed it will not extend the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act (SHA) beyond September of 2019.

The law, introduced by the National-led government while in power, aimed to streamline new developments by lessening consent times with accords between local councils and central government.

Labour strongly criticised them as ineffectual in opposition, and Housing Minister Phil Twyford said that houses ended up being more expensive inside the areas than outside them.

Te Awa Lakes development director Lale Ieremia, and Perry Group chief executive Richard Coventry, spoke about their frustrations at a council meeting on Thursday.

Coventry said they undertook extensive research and looked into the process and how it worked in other regions. He said typically it would take about three months from the time council signed off, to it being approved by central Government.

“We’re sort of nine months and waiting,” he said.

CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

The plan is to build 1000 homes – at least 400 of them affordable – on a piece of triangular land in Horotiu owned by Perry Group.

“It really goes against the intent of the act which was to release more land for affordable housing.

“We’d like to seek more clarity from the Government around the support for current special housing areas and those to come and if not, if the act’s going to be repealed, then what tools are going to be introduced, when are they coming, and when are they going to be administered.”

Ieremia said Government interference was stalling the progress.

“The Government is looking to repeal the SHA and we implore the council to push and support the fact that we are missing tools to deliver houses in this area at the moment.

“If we were to describe the SHA simply: it is a machete for the long grass, with which a normal lawn mower would then, still, take the process through the RMA.

“That’s all it’s doing for us at the moment but we can’t get one single large scale [development] over the line.

“So in terms of moving forward, we would support council’s push towards asking the government to be more clear, more transparent, in the approaches for whatever tool they may put in place going forward.”

Councillor Ryan Hamilton moved a motion for council to formally write to central Government about the frustration at the slow process.

He said it’s a policy designed to expedite housing development and it’s bottlenecking.

Since the law was passed in 2013, 11 housing accords were signed, including the 80-house development at Jebson Place in Hamilton East.

Three other special housing areas were also planned for Hamilton; Carlingford Rise in Dinsdale, Quentin Dr near lake Rotoroa, and Endeavour Ave in Flagstaff.

City planning manager Luke O’Dwyer said the Carlingford Rise site would have provided 42 homes but developers pulled out because of the time pressures involved.

Housing New Zealand applied to build 69 dwellings in Flagstaff but pulled the pin on Wednesday afternoon. The SHA application for 111 dwellings on the Quentin Dr site will still go ahead.

Councillor James Casson said a community meeting was held in Flagstaff on Wednesday night about the proposed site.

“The people of Flagstaff were against it. It’s not because they were snobby – they’re salt of the earth Hamiltonians – but what they were concerned with was the 69 houses in a in two-hectare space, which would reflect badly in the area.”

Council voted to approve the Quentin Dr proposal and for the chief executive to write to the Government outlining council’s frustrations around time delays and uncertainties relating to the SHA process.

Crs Paula Southgate and Garry Mallet were were absent when the vote took place.

Crs Casson and Leo Tooman dissented.