Simon Collins

Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Leg up on cards for low-income areas

Intensive housing project of 6000 homes and ideas for attracting new businesses and training organisations will help revitalise eastern suburbs around Tamaki estuary.

The plan proposes a mix across the redevelopment area of market and affordable housing. Photo / Dean Purcell
The plan proposes a mix across the redevelopment area of market and affordable housing. Photo / Dean Purcell

Auckland's low-income suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure will roughly double in population under a draft plan for more intensive housing to be unveiled today.

The urban "regeneration" project, which could add up to 6000 new homes to an existing 5050, is expected to be one of the first "special housing areas" with fast-tracked resource consent processes under a housing accord signed last month by Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

The target of 6000, included in the accord, makes it the biggest housing development scheduled in Auckland and twice as big as the 3000-unit Hobsonville development.

It covers the area between West Tamaki Rd in the north and the Panmure Basin in the south, including 2880 Housing NZ homes, about 1160 owner-occupied houses and just over 1000 private rental properties.

Unlike other developments, the draft Tamaki strategy also includes 11 other social, economic and environmental elements, as well as housing, designed to make the area more liveable despite doubling the population density.

The area is among Auckland's most deprived, with a 2006 median income of only $20,000 and an employment rate of only 52 per cent, compared with 65 per cent across Auckland. Sole parents make up almost half the area's families.

But the strategy sees opportunities for more jobs and training by attracting new businesses, redeveloping under-used land along the existing railway and encouraging training agencies such as Manukau Institute of Technology, Unitec and Te Wananga o Aotearoa to take over parts of Auckland University's Tamaki campus, which the university plans to sell as it develops a new campus in Newmarket.

The strategy says private investors have expressed interest in redeveloping an area next to the railway line where containers are stored, including possibly reopening the former Tamaki station between Glen Innes and Panmure.

The plan proposes a mix across the redevelopment area of market and affordable housing, likely to be developed by private developers, community and iwi organisations.

Tamaki Redevelopment Company, a joint Government/Auckland Council agency which wrote the draft, says it expects to have "a leadership, facilitation and land management role".

Its statement of intent says it may have a "future role as a competing social housing provider" to Housing NZ and will make a business case for new capital injections from the Government and the council, including possible "asset transfers" - an apparent reference to transferring state houses and public land to the company.

But Dr Smith said development was most likely to be done by "public/private partnerships" as at Hobsonville, where a Housing NZ subsidiary contracted with private developers to build houses.

"The Government's intent is to be very much in control of the big picture, very much in control of the complementary developments that are associated with housing changes, but not necessarily to be making significant investment around housing redevelopment," he said.

"We are very keen on the Tamaki Redevelopment Company to be really focused on the regeneration of the community, and not to be having to put all its energy into managing existing tenancies, although inevitably there is some interaction between those functions."

He said the Government would be involved in developing health, educational and recreational facilities.

The draft strategy suggests starting with an initial regeneration project to include "developing a significant park, improving accessibility to the coast, enhancing playing fields and a mixed housing development".

The company also plans four initial community development projects - supporting an existing early childhood education network Tamaki Learning Champions, a financial literacy programme, community safety initiatives and the Manaiakalani Trust, which already provides cheap computers and a wireless broadband network for most school pupils in the area.

The draft plan is open for public feedback until Friday July 19.

Only one Tamaki resident on high-powered board

Tamaki College principal Soana Pamaka is the only one of seven directors of the Tamaki Redevelopment Company who lives in Tamaki.

The company, owned 59 per cent by the Government and 41 per cent by the Auckland Council, is chaired by former McConnell Property chief executive Martin Udale, now a director of Cranleigh merchant bankers.

The other directors are NZ Housing Foundation chief executive Brian Donnelly, former Manukau city councillor Anne Candy, Ngati Whatua policy and development manager Eru Lyndon, BNZ director Dr Susan Macken and property developer John Sax.

Mrs Pamaka, who was born in Tonga, has lived and worked in Tamaki for 22 years.

Pacific people made up 45 per cent of the area's residents at the last Census; a further 23 per cent were Maori.

Chief executive Debra Lawson previously worked in public-private partnerships on urban regeneration programmes in London.

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the directors were chosen for their expertise.

"The experience internationally is that urban redevelopment projects are very challenging," he said.

"You need very high levels of specialist expertise, particularly around smart urban developments and making them both socially successful and financially sustainable."

He said there was "input" to the company from elected members of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board and the company needed to "take the community with us".

"I openly acknowledge that, for example with some of the Housing NZ work in the community, particularly a couple of years ago, community relations were not as well managed as they could have been, and the purpose in setting up the Tamaki Redevelopment Company is to ensure lessons are learned from that experience."

He said the Government's 59 per cent shareholding was based on its $5 million share of the initial capital of $8.5 million when the company was formed last year.

Aims of the project

1. Cultural identity
Work with iwi and heritage groups to protect cultural landmarks; run community events; facilitate a weekend or night market; include public art in all major projects.

2. Healthy, happy children
Support early childhood education through Tamaki Learning Champions; support e-learning and driver's licence training; promote child-friendly parks.

3. Health and recreation
Support sports clubs to increase sporting participation; support an integrated family health centre; support watersports facility at Panmure wharf and multi-sports facilities at Dunkirk Reserve.

4. Safety
Support Maori wardens and Maori and Pacific youth groups.

5. Education
Work to keep educational courses when Auckland University sells its Tamaki campus.

6. Employment
Support services for beneficiaries returning to work, eg, CVs, financial literacy; use Tamaki Redevelopment Company jobs as stepping stones to other work.

7. Economic development
Attract new businesses; use housing developments to foster construction industry businesses.

8. Innovation
Develop affordable housing; support social finance initiatives for social enterprise and small business.

9. Urban environment
Work with council to redevelop Glen Innes town centre, including shared spaces for pedestrians and cars; also to redevelop Panmure town centre.

10. Housing
Work with Housing NZ to decide which houses to keep or redevelop; build or promote a range of housing types, including affordable housing; buy or sell land to create development parcels.

11. Natural environment
Use environmentally sustainable practices, eg, solar power, collected rainwater, sustainable materials; develop paths along Tamaki River and connecting green spaces; support community gardens.

12. Transport
Work with private investors to reopen former Tamaki railway station and develop park-and-ride facilities.

Have your say

*Celebrating Community Day, Glen Innes town centre, this Saturday, 11am-2pm.
*Panmure flea market, Sunday June 30, 9am-noon.
*Glen Innes Kulture and Kai market, Saturday July 6, 8am-1pm.
*Online: tamakimakingithappen.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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