Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate is urging Kainga Ora to run a “wholly transparent process” as it progresses its proposal to build 70 new homes in Flagstaff.
She wants the state housing agency to opt for a publicly notified resource consent, saying anything else would be unacceptable given the high level of interest in the plan.
Kainga Ora, formerly Housing New Zealand, wants to build a mixture of apartments and standalone houses on Crown-owned land in Endeavour Ave. The homes, on two hectares next to the Flagstaff shops, would be a mix of publicly owned and state-owned housing. Kainga Ora announced the proposal last Thursday after providing details to Hamilton City Councillors earlier in the day.
Mayor Southgate said she has received huge feedback on the proposal – in support and against.
“People have every right to be heard and Kainga Ora needs to make that option available to them – not just via informal engagement as they are doing now but also as part of a publicly notified consent process,” she said.
“Council cannot force them to do undertake a publicly notified process, but Councillors will take a very dim view of anything less than total transparency and public involvement in this issue.”
Mayor Southgate was expecting a resource consent application to be lodged with Hamilton City Council in the next 6-8 weeks. She has written to Kainga Ora urging a publicly notified process, saying the government agency has a “strong obligation” to do so, given the strength of feeling from people in Hamilton and particularly in Flagstaff.
As the landowner Kainga Ora has the same rights as other developers to develop their land, she said. But rights come with responsibilities and that included a responsibility to take community views into account.
“There is no doubt we need more housing in Hamilton, particularly affordable housing, and that is something I am acutely aware of. I’m not against high-density housing, as long as it’s good quality housing in the most appropriate place. But we should be building communities, not just housing. There’s an important difference, particularly because there is an existing community already there.”
Any housing developments must be sensitive to surrounding areas and be mindful of the effects on existing residents.
“I’m not convinced, for example, that the proposal to build three stories in Flagstaff is the way to go so that’s something I’m personally very interested in. And I want to know exactly what it means for things like traffic and parking.”
Mayor Southgate encouraged those interested in the proposal to engage directly with Kainga Ora and make their views heard early in the process.