Whangārei residents opposed to state houses going up on part of a recreational park are angry Housing New Zealand has organised a drop-in session in the middle of a busy working day.
The government department this week released plans for the construction of 37 homes on land formerly owned by the Ministry of Education on Puriri Park Rd in Maunu.
A letter containing details of the housing development were dropped in letterboxes on Puriri Park Rd and side roads on Wednesday and also urged residents to drop by between 12pm and 2pm on Friday, February 22, if they had questions.
Housing NZ spokesman Iain Butler and senior stakeholder relationship manager Marion Humphrey will be in attendance.
Lobby group Save Puriri Park member Dianne Reader said the day and time was utterly ridiculous as people were at work and said Housing NZ should start showing people more respect.
"Everyone is working. Who do they expect to turn up from 12pm to 2pm on a Friday. It's just a ploy," she said.
A Housing NZ spokesman said the timing allowed the many elderly residents in the neighbourhood to have a face-to-face discussion about the project, and for those with flexible work schedules to drop in during their lunch break.
"As we have in the past, the Housing New Zealand stakeholder engagement team is open to meeting with groups of residents at a time that suits them."
Save Puriri Park spokesman Trevor Reader said more people would start putting their houses for sale now that Housing New Zealand was absolutely determined to get its plans under way.
"If this development goes ahead, it will set a precedent throughout New Zealand where state houses can be put up in green spaces. Housing NZ will say they've done it in Whangārei, they can do it elsewhere.
"It looks like a social disaster waiting to happen. People are terrified it's going to be the end of a nice neighbourhood and these are the ratepayers that have worked hard over the years and have chosen to live in this area because it's safe and has friendly neighbours,"
Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai and Councillor Cherry Hermon were briefed by Housing New Zealand officials on Wednesday as well as staff in the offices of local MPs Dr Shane Reti, Shane Jones and Kelvin Davis.
Mai said Wednesday's meeting was productive and informative and gave her and Hermon an opportunity to express concerns they had heard from the community.
"We also clarified that the decision on notification or non-notification of the resource consent will be assessed by our staff professionals."
Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis believes state houses on a section of Puriri Park would be "fantastic" for Whangārei.
He said it was always going to be a challenge to completely meet the need because the demand for in Whangārei has been increasing for a number of years.
"The Public Housing Plan released last year showed the government aims to create 105 more public housing places in Whangārei – with 75 of those new state homes and the remainder from community housing providers," Davis said.