The Hastings District Council and Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga (TTOH) are facing resistance to a proposal to create a co-housing development in Flaxmere, with nearby residents concerned about changes to covenants, the impact on their property prices and the social consequences.
About 40 people turned up to a Hastings District Council meeting on Thursday this week to speak to and support a petition opposing a Waingakau Village development proposed by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga between Kirkwood Road and Mitchell Place/Boston Crescent.
This included developing 76 co-housing houses with a mixture of one, two and three bedroom homes, and 44 houses in the conventional development style using the existing subdivision layout.
Co-housing projects were a community of clustered housing with common shared neighbourhood facilities and potentially wraparound services.
The council owned 59 sections under consideration, with the remainder owned by Te Aranga Marae and TTOH.
In October last year, the council supported the proposal in principle and TTOH undertook developing a more detailed business case.
In January this year, however, a 118-signature petition was presented, asking the land be made available to the general public for purchase and development, complying with covenants that applied to existing sections on Kirkwood Rd already built on.
That included minimum dwelling size, integrated garages and internal boundary fencing.
This week the residents reiterated their opposition.
Paul Evans, who had bought land and built his house on Kirkwood Rd, spoke for the petitioners and urged the council to release the sections for sale on the open market.
He had been in Flaxmere 10 years and said the area was affordable for a cross-section of society to build a quality home.
"In our street we have diversity - we have first-home buyers, second-chance homeowners, Māori, Pacific and European New Zealanders.
"There is a good feeling - what has been created should be applauded and continued. We would not have bought and built here if we had known it would be beside a co-housing development - this has the potential to derail what we have been striving for."
He said he knew of people keen to build in the area who were put off by such a development.
We would not have bought and built here if we had known it would be beside a co-housing development - this has the potential to derail what we have been striving for.
"I respect the heart shown by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga - while this may work, there is also a high risk. There are co-housing developments that are good and bad ... when you manipulate the structure of how society lives you diminish the number of people that want to go there and there is potential for social disharmony."
At the meeting the council also heard from Bruce Greaves of Aranga Developments, who had submitted an alternative proposal asking to buy 16 sections from the council that could be built on immediately, and he expressed interest in buying the remaining sections and putting in the infrastructure needed for unserviced sections.
"There is a dire need for affordable housing... we are ready to build now, we have housing plans available ... we are certain this could be a win-win for all parties.
"If you provide good houses you will attract strong and stable families ... this area has a history of gangs, drug problems and violence, and I want to see that change."
He asked the council to consider his proposal at the same time as that of TTOH, and said he could have all the sections he was requesting sold within six months and houses built in 18 months.
Waingakau Village project manager Emma Horgan told the council on behalf of TTOH that they were largely comfortable to work with the covenants already in place and that the housing being proposed was based on the average high-quality home in Hawke's Bay.
She added there would be a tender process for construction in order to keep pricing competitive.
The council had made no decisions on what it would do with its land, but Flaxmere councillor Henare O'Keefe said he was looking forward to the discussion moving forward.
"It's high time some sort of development took place. We have been waiting 30 years - there has been enough talking. It's about growing our community and having a mix of deciles and ethnicities."