Public backlash has forced Far North Holdings Limited board to withdraw its application for community housing on this site in central Hikurangi.
Photo / Tania Whyte
Public backlash has prompted the Far North Holdings board to pull the pin on a community housing development in Hikurangi.
Far North Holdings Limited (FNHL) lodged a resource consent application with the Whangārei District Council to construct community housing units on a block of land in the heart of Hikurangi Village on King St. The proposed site backs on to a primary school and neighbours the Hikurangi Hotel.
At a public meeting at Hikurangi Memorial Hall earlier this month, FNHL chief executive Andy Nock indicated the company wouldn’t pursue the project if the community was opposed to it.
The Hikurangi Business Association launched a petition to halt the development.
Nock said this morning that after “listening to the room”, the straightforward solution was to withdraw the application and instead look at other alternatives.
“It’s important to Far North Holdings Limited to work with and understand the community’s needs, so it was great to meet with local residents and the Hikurangi Business Association about the King St site, as this is always an important part of a process we follow in respect to any development work we undertake.”
Nock said FNHL would instead look at a retail solution for the locally-owned site which “captured heritage values” in building design. He also said they would identify an alternative site to address the community’s need for housing.
“This was approved by the Far North Housing Ltd board and has been recommended to the Far North Holdings Board for formal confirmation (as the Sale and Purchase contract sits with the Holdings Board),” Nock said.
“FNHL is always looking for ways to support communities to address their housing needs, however, I cannot confirm any concrete plans for any other development at this stage.”
The worry from locals, including the Association, was the units would back on to the local primary school, neighbour the historic Hikurangi Hotel, and be based in the town centre.
The plan was to lease the new housing units to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development on a long-term agreement of about 25 years.
Hikurangi Community Development co-ordinator Sharlene Morris-Ross said the association would continue to oppose FNHL’s plans until there was 100 per cent official confirmation that the application had been withdrawn.
Correspondence to Nock from the association said the group was not filled with confidence that the project wouldn’t proceed.
“Until the resource consent application for the medium density units has been withdrawn and we have complete notification from FHNL that the project has been abandoned, we will still be maintaining our opposition to the development within our group and with the community.
“We do request that you keep us in the loop with intentions and actions in relation to the housing development and it’s still an active resource consent application,” it said.
At the time of the petition in late June, the association said it was strongly opposed to the site being used for compact housing units, and not in line with the vision for the area.
“Hikurangi Business Association says now is the time to act to save this space from residential development. With the resource consent in the council, we don’t have long to have a voice as a community and oppose this development.
“We are not asking you to say no to community housing in Hikurangi, but to say no to community housing on this specific site right in the heart of our village.”
The proposed units would have consisted of 16 units arranged in two, two-storey blocks, with Block A fronting King St, and Block B at the rear. Each block was to have eight units – four at ground level, and four on the first floor.
As of 1pm today, the online petition to oppose the community housing plan had received 934 signatures.