Papamoa could become the testing ground for a pilot project to build an affordable housing village on land owned by the Tauranga City Council.

A knife-edge 6-5 vote yesterday saw the council agree that it could either lead or provide the land for the project.

The prospect of a village-style development taking place on an 8500sq m block in Opal Drive was raised by councillor Rick Curach, pictured, who succeeded in overturning the recommendation not to commit any council resources to the pilot project.

I am not comfortable with putting council resources into something that I do not think will work.

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If the project got the final tick-off from the council, registrations of interest would be called from potential developers or social housing providers by SmartGrowth's Housing Affordability Forum.

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Forum spokeswoman Christine Ralph said it made no difference to them if the council asked for the market price for the land as part of the registration process.

The council's involvement could be reduced to an absolute minimum.

The forum has developed a blueprint to solve Tauranga's affordable housing crisis.

It centred on a concept that moved away from the traditional one house per section formula and instead involved a number of houses around communal green areas.

Mrs Ralph said she had been talking to two of the local housing trusts and had received a "very encouraging response".

Mr Curach said there was no incentive in the market to build affordable houses but Opal Drive could provide the opportunity for development companies to showcase some really affordable homes.

The site of a village-style development proposed for on an 8500sq m block in Opal Drive. Photo / George Novak
The site of a village-style development proposed for on an 8500sq m block in Opal Drive. Photo / George Novak

"The council has a role to facilitate developments like this. I can't see any downsides."

He was supported by councillor Kelvin Clout who said it was an opportunity to showcase some good solid low-cost housing options.

But Papamoa councillor Steve Morris was skeptical, saying the best way to determine market value was to put the property on the market.

He doubted that they would show New Zealand how to do affordable housing.

"We have a responsibility to ratepayers to get the value out of the land by selling it," he said.

The Opal Drive block was already on the list of properties due to be sold by the council.

Councillor Matt Cowley slammed Mr Curach's motion as being ambiguous and failing to provide certainty. He was supported by councillor John Robson who said he had no confidence that the scale of a project envisaged for Opal Drive would deliver what was hoped.

"I am not comfortable with putting council resources into something that I do not think will work."

Mayor Stuart Crosby said the council needed to clearly articulate its role and what Mr Curach recommended would at least keep the door open to work with builders and trusts. Supporting Mr Curach was Mr Crosby and councillors Leanne Brown, Kelvin Clout, Bill Grainger and Catherine Stewart. Opposed were councillors Matt Cowley, Bev Edlin, Gail McIntosh, Steve Morris and John Robson.