Housing proposals put forward for $1b government fund

All four highlighted proposals will apply for Government funding with support from the city council.

Nelson City Council/supplied

All four highlighted proposals will apply for Government funding with support from the city council.

Four developments which could see 2950 houses built in Nelson will be put forward for consideration for a slice of a $1 billion Government fund.

In a surprise twist a Gibbons development in Bishopdale was the only development to receive unanimous support from councillors. This was the one development Nelson City Council staff thought did not meet eligibility criteria.

The other three developments that will go into consideration for the Government’s $1 billion Infrastructure Acceleration Fund are Whakatū Incorporation’s Horoirangi proposal at Wakapuaka, the 2500-dwelling Ngawhatu and Marsden Valleys suburb and Ngāti Koata’s Maitahi subdivision in the Kākā Valley.

Mayor Rachel Reese said Nelson’s housing crisis was “a very desperate situation”, and it was important to apply for funding when it was made available.

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Council group manager of infrastructure Alec Louverdis told a full council meeting on Thursday that after further discussion with Gibbons, staff believed the development did meet the fund’s criteria, and staff now recommended supporting all four.

“As my wife is always telling me, if you want to win the lottery, you have to buy a ticket.”

Mayor Rachel Reese said Nelson’s housing market had led to a “very desperate situation” for Nelson, with the average resident paying almost 40 per cent of their income on rent or mortgage.

Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Mayor Rachel Reese said Nelson’s housing market had led to a “very desperate situation” for Nelson, with the average resident paying almost 40 per cent of their income on rent or mortgage.

Each of the proposals will be submitted as Expressions of Interest by Nelson City Council to Kāinga Ora (Housing New Zealand) for funding consideration. Final decisions on funding were expected in March to October next year.

Gibbons chief executive Scott Gibbons spoke to the Nelson City Council ahead of the vote, explaining how the development did meet the fund’s criteria.

The development would encompass approximately 100 houses on the Bishopdale hill near the old Bishopdale Pottery building.

The Gibbons development houses would start at the site of the old pottery site, left, and would have access to Waimea Rd via a new connection to the existing intersection.

MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF

The Gibbons development houses would start at the site of the old pottery site, left, and would have access to Waimea Rd via a new connection to the existing intersection.

The development was the only one of the four put to council which already had consents.

Gibbons said that without the fund, the chances of the development proceeding were decreased due to the “affordable angle”, as the site was geo-technically challenging.

“There’s an affordable home category mark, I believe $650,000 is the target,” he said. “We are targeting that mid-to-affordable range.”

However, he said Gibbons was “well-advanced” in negotiations with community housing providers.

“At least 60 per cent of them will be targeted at the affordable range.”

Ngāti Koata Ltd chief executive and director of the Maitahi development Hemi Toia also spoke about the Maitahi development, saying that the fund would enable Ngāti Koata to offer 100 of the proposed 350 houses to community housing providers, and to give early access to community housing groups to help develop housing to suit their needs.

Save the Maitai spoke before the meeting in the public forum and asked the council not to support development in the Kākā Valley.

Spokesman Dan Levy said the councillors had a duty to remain impartial as the proposal had not been through its plan change process.

“A favourable vote to support the developments inevitably …. will undermine any perception of impartiality.”

Mayor Rachel Reese highlighted the dire state of Nelson’s housing market in her mayor’s report to the council.

“We have seen an escalation in housing prices and rents over the last five years … Based on the numbers from 2020, house prices have risen 88 per cent in the last five years, rents have increased by more than 30 per cent over that same time frame, and the average Nelsonian spends 38 per cent of their income on their rent or their mortgage.”

She said the numbers were higher, as a percentage of income, than for people in Auckland, thanks to the combination of high house prices and relatively low wages in Nelson.

Councillor Rohan O'Neill-Stevens said he would support intensive development over greenfield unless there was a “very strong argument” otherwise, but still supported all four developments going to the next stage.

BRADEN FASTIER / STUFF

Councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens said he would support intensive development over greenfield unless there was a “very strong argument” otherwise, but still supported all four developments going to the next stage.

“The knock-on effect of those dreadful numbers is we are getting to a point now where our businesses want to grow … but they can’t attract skilled staff or even retain skilled staff because of the cost and supply issues in housing.”

Councillor Rohan O’Neill-Stevens said he was “somewhat reluctantly” supporting all the proposals, but said he was “not heartened by those who have had power for a long time speaking as if this is the first opportunity that we have to make a change”.

He said it was a “sufficiently depressing meeting as is” without adding more statistics, but his generation was facing “unprecedented housing unaffordability” and pensioners, or those on fixed incomes, were in the same boat.

“We’ve known this crisis was coming since the mid 2000s. Many people sat by and have watched it happen and are only now getting all hands on deck. I’m very happy to join and fight that fight, but we should have acted sooner.”

How people voted:

  • Horoirangi passed 11 to two

    Councillors Pete Rainey and Matt Lawrey voted against

  • Maitahi passed 10 to three

    Councillors Rachel Sanson, Rainey, and Lawrey voted against

  • Ngawhatu and Marsden Valleys passed 12 to one

    Councillor Lawrey voted against

  • Bishopdale passed unanimously