Habitat home 'will devalue ours'

By Joseph Aldridge

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A group of Hairini neighbours fear their property values will drop if a Habitat For Humanity home is built on their street.

They say they would lose privacy and a convenient place for the local children to play if an "affordable house" is built on the vacant lot between their properties.

The Awaiti Place residents have petitioned Tauranga City Council, asking it not to sell the property, which the council was planning to do because the land is surplus to its requirements.

Earlier this year, councillors declined a proposal from the residents that the 474sq m lot be turned into a neighbourhood reserve.

In a letter to the council, Andre and Catherine Hudson said that, when they bought their house behind the empty lot seven years ago, the green space in front was one of the main attractions.

"This area gives natural beauty, a place for children of the neighbourhood to play while also giving each of us privacy.

"Plans to put a house on this land will completely destroy this lovely setting and abolish all privacy with a full viewing into our main living areas from the new house."

The Hudsons also said they were "extremely concerned over plans to place a family with financial difficulties" directly in front of their house, as they had heard from a homeowner living next to Habitat for Humanity homes that neighbouring property values had plummeted because of frequent loud parties, burnouts on the street and wandering children.

Other neighbours were also concerned the new "affordable" home would devalue their properties.

Tim and Andrea Smith said only a "small scale, low budget" house would be able to be built because of the size and shape of the section.

"This will no doubt reduce the value of, not only ours, but all neighbouring properties of this section and potentially impede future sales of our property."

It would also be a double standard if the new house was not subject to the type of caveats specifying type and size of building that the neighbouring properties were, the Smiths said.

Kesson Sharp said many of the residents had lost confidence in the ability of Habitat for Humanity to choose a good neighbour since the charitable organisation turned up seeking approval signatures earlier in the year. They felt the approach was too forceful.

"We know it's a charitable trust and it's well managed, but there's a problem when they start using the church against us and the wrath of God and we're treated like sinners."

Tauranga Habitat for Humanity chairman Paul Broatch said he did not know about the particular situation Mr Sharp referred to but he found it "very surprising that anybody would have said anything like that".

"We're very careful in selecting our families, we try to select good people who won't cause any problems, and pay the rent and buy their houses." Habitat homes were not mansions but they were good basic homes, he said, and he did not think they would devalue neighbouring properties.

Mr Broatch acknowledged neighbours would lose some of the privacy they had become accustomed to, as well as the green space where local children played, but said that would be the same as living on a subdivision as it filled up with houses.

"I've certainly not heard of anybody packing up and leaving because there's a Habitat home put in beside them," he said. "For us, it's an opportunity to obtain a good section at an affordable price and we're keen to do that."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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