A proposed state housing development in Flagstaff by Kāinga Ora - Housing and Communities has outraged residents and a local MP as Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate calls for transparency over the development.
Kāinga Ora, formerly Housing New Zealand, wants to build a mixture of apartments and standalone houses on Crown-owned land in Endeavour Ave. The homes, on 2ha next to the Flagstaff shops, would be a mix of publicly owned and state-owned housing.
Kāinga Ora announced the proposal last Thursday after providing details to Hamilton City councillors that day.
Southgate said she has received huge feedback on the proposal – in support and against.
"People have every right to be heard and Kāinga Ora needs to make that option available to them – not just via informal engagement as they are doing now but also as part of a publicly notified consent process," Southgate said.
"Council cannot force them to do undertake a publicly notified process, but councillors will take a very dim view of anything less than total transparency and public involvement in this issue."
Southgate was expecting a resource consent application to be lodged with Hamilton City Council in the next 6-8 weeks. She has written to Kāinga Ora urging a publicly notified process, saying the government agency has a "strong obligation" to do so, given the strength of feeling from people in Hamilton and particularly in Flagstaff.
As landowner, Kāinga Ora has the same rights as other developers to develop their land, she said. But rights come with responsibilities and that included taking community views into account.
"There is no doubt we need more housing in Hamilton, particularly affordable housing, and that is something I am acutely aware of. I'm not against high-density housing, as long as it's good quality housing in the most appropriate place. But we should be building communities, not just housing. There's an important difference, particularly because there is an existing community already there."
Any housing developments must be sensitive to surrounding areas and be mindful of the effects on existing residents.
"I'm not convinced, for example, that the proposal to build three storeys in Flagstaff is the way to go so that's something I'm personally very interested in. And I want to know exactly what it means for things like traffic and parking."
Southgate encouraged those interested in the proposal to engage directly with Kāinga Ora and make their views heard early in the process.
National MP for Hamilton East David Bennett has started a parliamentary petition to stop the proposed development.
In the petition he says, "The Flagstaff area is an established suburb of Hamilton City. I believe this proposed project will change the character of the suburb, as it is a high density development in a low density suburban area. I think allowing the proposal to be notified with comprehensive consultation would give local residents an ability to have input into a significant development in their area."