Demolition has started on one of Napier's bigger state-housing sites as Housing New Zealand steps up the removal of at least 16 units from suburban Maraenui by the end of this year.
Coming a fortnight after the removal of two two-storey, twin-unit buildings on Bledisloe Rd, on the western side of the suburban shopping centre, contractors are now removing a building of four units in Longfellow Ave, on the opposite side of the shopping block and park. The units are among at least 17 circling the shopping centre which have been been left untenanted as the corporation implements new social-housing policy.
And they are among about 60 properties in the wider Maraenui area which have been emptied by the corporation. In a newsletter to residents this week, it restated no decisions had been made about future redevelopment, apart from the corporation's purchase of new units and letting of a contact for the construction of more, all in neighbouring Marewa.
In the newsletter, the first to the suburb in which many fear a dismantling of their community, and now the ringing of its shopping centre by a range of empty sections, the corporation said most of the state housing in the area had been built to the needs of the 1950s and 1960s.
It said those needs had changed, as had building materials, which the corporation added enabled it to now provide better quality housing "for people most in need".
The newsletter reaffirmed five blocks, containing a total of 16 units, were being removed this year, but made no reference to the future of a range of other properties from which tenants are being relocated because of earthquake-risk assessments.
Already bought and now tenanted by the corporation are some new one and two-bedroomed homes in Nuffield Ave, and the corporation says Alexander Construction has now been contracted to start the building this year of 18 houses off Kettle Cres, which has been empty since the removal of other corporation houses more than three years ago.