Some Wellington community groups are concerned land that's been used for social housing for decades will be privatised and lost forever.

Wellington City Counci (WCC) has received more than 70 submissions on its proposed partnership with Housing New Zealand (HNZ) to redevelop the city's Mt Cook Arlington complex.

The plan is for HNZ to develop and operate between 230 and 300 homes, including up to 40 supported-living units.

The council wants to enter a 125-year lease with HNZ for Arlington sites 1 and 3.


The proposal includes the option for up to 30 per cent of the sites to be transferred into HNZ ownership for the development of affordable homes.

But that proposal has divided the community.

One submission in support said Arlington presented a "golden opportunity" to do both social and affordable housing, another said a mix of residents reduced the risk of "ghettoisation".

Wellington City Missioner Murray Edridge supported having both, as long as thought was put into how to turn the site into a community through shared public outdoor space and common facilities.

He also urged WCC to consider means to support people into ownership through shared equity agreements.

The plan for Arlington includes the development of up to 300 homes. Photo / WCC.
The plan for Arlington includes the development of up to 300 homes. Photo / WCC.

Other submissions said converting a proportion of the land to affordable housing was problematic.

"Taking land that is already used for those who can least afford homes to give to others who would like to buy homes is taking advantage of the resources already in local authority and central Government control in an unhealthy way," one submitter said.

People also feared affordable homes would later be on-sold privately at market rate "forever removing the properties" from low-income earners.


Mt Cook Mobilised chairman Peter Cooke said the inclusion of the affordable housing condition would amount to privatisation of that portion of land.

"It's too valuable to have some of it, up to 30 per cent, sold off to young couples who are trying to buy their first home. It's much more important to make it social housing and as many as possible."

WCC housing portfolio leader councillor Brian Dawson said assurances have been made at least the same number of social housing units would be developed as what's on the site now, regardless of any land being used for affordable housing.

It's unclear whether any affordable houses built on the site would come under KiwiBuild.

The proposal comes after more than a year's worth of careful negotiations between WCC and HNZ and various other government bodies, Dawson said.

Mayor Justin Lester at a blessing of 104 new social housing units already developed at Arlington. Photo / WCC.
Mayor Justin Lester at a blessing of 104 new social housing units already developed at Arlington. Photo / WCC.

The proposal was a "yes or no question" and there wasn't really room for changes to the deal, he said.

"If people say no, then we go back to the drawing board."

Meanwhile some Community Housing Providers (CHPs) are feeling left out of plans for what's one of WCC's biggest social housing redevelopments.

Salvation Army Social Housing national director Greg Foster has called for a meeting between providers, WCC and HNZ before a partnership for Arlington is approved.

"Although we fully understand the decision by WCC to look to partner with HNZ, we do feel that WCC has fallen short of engaging with CHPs throughout the process", he said

Accessible Properties chief executive Greg Orchard supported a call for the meeting.

He said including CHPs would be a smart way to help mitigate the impacts of future changes to national polices.

"If past behaviour is a determinant, we can be sure that over the next 125 years the national policy settings that will determine the way this housing will be managed and who will be eligible for housing on this site will change – and change in ways that we cannot yet imagine", he said.

But councillor Brian Dawson said if they used CHPs to redevelop the site, there would end up being fewer social housing units.

"Because none of those community housing providers have got the kind of capital that is required to develop a site that size in social housing."

Wellington City Council will hear oral submissions on the matter today.