A former playing field opposite Whanganui Girls' College has been sold and will be used to build up to 30 Kāinga Ora houses.
The 1.0958ha empty site in Jones St was sold by the Whanganui Girls' College Board of Trustees on September 30. The land was not under Treaty claim and was no longer needed for educational purposes, Toitū te Whenua Land Information New Zealand head of Crown property Jerome Sheppard said.
Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities' Taranaki, Manawatū and Whanganui regional director Graeme Broderick confirmed the agency, formerly Housing New Zealand, had bought it.
The land will be used to build up to 30 medium density houses in a range of different sizes. Work will start next year.
"The purchase of this land is good news for delivering more much-needed homes for those in urgent need," Broderick said.
"It's in a great location, a good size, and provides an excellent opportunity for providing more warm, dry and modern homes for Whanganui."
Councillor Kate Joblin, who initiated Whanganui District Council's housing strategy in 2019, said it was great news that Kāinga Ora had purchased the property with the intention to build new housing.
"Council recognises that Whanganui has a severe housing shortage and we are delighted that Kāinga Ora is actively working on building new social housing stock," Joblin said.
"With local housing prices continuing to climb, it is particularly important that social housing is a priority."
Kāinga Ora is working with Whanganui iwi on how the houses can meet their aspirations. It also wants to support the Whanganui East community at large by building neighbourhoods, not just houses.
"We're committed to keeping the community updated on plans for delivering more homes in the neighbourhood, and once initial high-level concept plans for the site have been developed further, we will share these for feedback," Broderick said.
Feedback will be given through drop-in sessions and surveys, in addition to fact sheets with renders and potential designs.
More information on the drop-in sessions will be released when the concept plans are ready.
"In the meantime, we'd love to get your initial feedback," Broderick said.
It can be given online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/jonesstreet, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the same time, Compass Housing Services is planning to add eight more social housing apartments to the 26 it administers at 321 Victoria Ave, the former Midtown Motor Inn site.
General manager Bernadette Pinnell said there were 363 people registered with the Ministry of Social Development as needing long-term secure housing in Whanganui in June this year, up from 198 in the previous year.
In August 2019 Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding and delivery chief executive Scott Gallacher promised 25 new Kāinga Ora/Housing New Zealand houses for Whanganui by the end of this year.