Artist’s impression of a 12-home, three-level apartment building proposed in central Kerikeri by Kāinga Ora. Image / Kāinga Ora
A drop-in session next week will give locals a chance to ask questions and give feedback about plans for 20 new public homes — including a three-storey apartment building — in central Kerikeri.
formerly Housing New Zealand, is proposing a 12-apartment, three-storey walk-up on Clark Rd, opposite the Rebel Sport store and near Kerikeri police station, as well as eight two-storey terraced homes.
The community drop-in session will be held at the Turner Centre from 4.30-6.30pm on February 22. It was originally scheduled to take place this week (February 15) but was postponed due to Cyclone Gabrielle.
If the plans are approved, the homes will be built by property development company Gemscott starting in mid-2023. Gemscott owns two properties on Clark Rd and an adjoining property on King St.
Kāinga Ora Te Tai Tokerau regional director Jeff Murray said neighbours on Clark Rd and King St, and other stakeholders, were invited to share their thoughts or ask questions on Wednesday.
Murray said there was an urgent need for more affordable housing with 456 applicants on the public housing waiting list in the Far North alone.
The Clark Rd development would allow Kāinga Ora to boost its Kerikeri portfolio from 42 to 62 public homes. The agency was also exploring development options elsewhere in the town.
Clark Rd’s location, within walking distance of the town centre, made it ideal for compact housing.
“It will mean more people can live close to local schools, jobs, open spaces, shops and other amenities,” he said.
Off-street parking was included and several homes would cater for people with limited mobility.
If the proposal went ahead Kāinga Ora would buy the land and homes from Gemscott once complete.
A survey about the Clark Rd development by community group Our Kerikeri received more than 400 responses.
Our Kerikeri chairwoman Annika Dickey said some respondents raised concerns about security, but many more worried about the suitability of a three-storey apartment complex on a 2000sq m site or housing up to 70 people with limited car parking.
Others worried that Kerikeri infrastructure — such as roads, doctors, dentists and sewerage — was unable to cope even with the current population, a concern that could apply to any new development in the town.
Dickey said the group wanted to see higher-density housing and a mixed-use downtown, but on the basis the council had policies and a masterplan in place.
“Once something like this is built, it sets a precedent and there’s no turning back. And it’s there for 50-plus years. We have to get this right and we fear that this is trying to be pushed through as non-notified so we don’t have a chance as a community to influence the development,” she said.
Our Kerikeri had been calling on the Far North District Council to prepare a downtown masterplan for Kerikeri and to urgently finish its spatial plan, a task started in October 2021.
“We’ve also advocated for design protocols to be developed. These types of developments are increasing and we’re simply not ready for them,” she said.
The group was, however, also “hugely passionate” about making sure people had roofs over their heads and that more affordable housing was available in Kerikeri — while avoiding quick fixes that could create long-term problems.
Gemscott originally lodged a resource consent application for the Clark Rd and King St sites on November 4 last year but withdrew it earlier this month while Kāinga Ora reconsidered its plans for King St.
Project manager Tim Jennings said he expected to re-submit an application for the two commercially zoned Clark Rd properties this month.
The company was pleased to be partnering with Kāinga Ora to provide quality, affordable housing at a central location, he said.
Consent documents show Gemscott previously requested a non-notified consent which, if granted, would mean only immediate neighbours could have a say.
Dickey said Our Kerikeri would meet representatives from Kāinga Ora and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development, as well as Deputy Mayor and housing portfolio holder Kelly Stratford, to raise their concerns ahead of the drop-in session.
Earlier this month Housing Minister Megan Woods announced the Government was buying a 3.3ha property slated for a 56-lot housing development on Hall Rd, Kerikeri, from businessman Sir Owen Glenn.
At least 30 per cent of the homes will be set aside for affordable or public housing.