A controversial plan to build state housing on land in Maunu has been delayed due to the Covid-19 crisis but nearby residents are vowing to continue their fight to save the green space the homes will be built on.
Kāinga Ora Homes and Communities will build 37 mostly one and two-bedroom houses on 3.2 hectares of land on Puriri Park Rd, zoned residential housing by the Whangārei District Council (WDC).
Kāinga Ora is a Crown entity comprising KiwiBuild, Housing New Zealand, and its development subsidiary, Hobsonville Land Company.
In November, independent commissioners gave the state housing development the green light despite 98 per cent of public submitters being opposed to the plan. Many residents of Puriri Park Rd and surrounding streets have long opposed the development, which is on former Ministry of Education Land adjacent to Puriri Park.
Work was due to start shortly but in a letter to residents Kāinga Ora said all non-essential work has been suspended during alert level 4 of the Covid-19 response.
''As construction of new homes is deemed non-essential, we are unable to begin work on the housing as 67-87 Puriri Park Rd,'' the letter said.
''As the wet season (May to September) is fast approaching, it will not be possible to commence site remediation and earthworks, due to restrictions on work during this time.''
The plan now is to start site remediation in October, with earthworks starting in December.
''We will, once alert levels permit, look to complete the demolition of 87 Puriri Park Rd and remove trees in preparation for site works to commence.''
Puriri Park and Maunu Residents Society chairman Trevor Reader said the residents were extremely disappointed when the consent for the development was granted.
Reader said the concerns from the residents were not against state housing, or state housing tenants, but about protecting the green space that the development will take up.
''We're obviously very disappointed in the way this has gone. We have delayed this process for quite some time (by challenging the plan),'' he said. ''We are all about saving that green space.''
Reader said the residents would continue to explore ways of getting the development moved to an area that did not mean taking up green space.
Nick Seymour, Programme Director, Kāinga Ora, is looking forward to getting work back under way at the Puriri Park Rd development as soon as possible.
''It is too early to say what the delay will do to our timeframes, however we do know construction will be permitted under alert level 3, provided all Government health and safety standards and protocols are followed. Our demolition programme will be part of this work and the house that needs demolishing (number 87) is not of a standard in which it could be habitable without significant investment.''
''It would already have been demolished were it not for Covid-19 restrictions and the previous Summer 2019-20 holiday season. Our Puriri Park Rd development will be part of the long-term solution for Whangārei's pressing need for public housing.''
The development includes construction of 15 one-bedroom duplexes, four two-bedroom duplexes, a three-bedroom standalone house, six three-bedroom duplexes, eight four-bedroom duplexes and three five-bedroom standalone homes.
Apart from the development on Puriri Park Rd, the Government will make 180 extra state houses available in Northland over four years. There will be 105 in Whangārei, 65 in the Far North and 10 in Kaitaia.