The original proposal for 3 Clark Rd was for a three-storey, 12-home apartment block (pictured). That has now been revised to eight apartments over two storeys. Image / Kāinga Ora
A Kerikeri community group says it was taken by surprise when a resource consent was issued for a controversial social housing block — but concedes the developers seem to be at least partly listening to community concerns.
Plans by development firm Gemscott, on behalf of housing agency Kāinga Ora, to build a three-storey social housing block in central Kerikeri triggered the town’s biggest public meeting in history: almost 800 people squeezed into the Turner Centre on May 3 and 375 followed the event online.
The backlash prompted the Far North District Council to hand the decision of whether to make the consent publicly notified to an independent commissioner.
Last Friday the Advocate revealed the council had issued a consent for the apartment block at 3 Clark Rd, albeit for a scaled-down version.
The revised plan is for a two-storey building with eight apartments instead of 12 apartments over three levels. The new plan also increases the number of parking spaces available for residents.
Annika Dickey, chairwoman of Our Kerikeri, said the resource consent had taken the group by surprise.
However, the group acknowledged Gemscott and Kāinga Ora appeared to have responded to some of the community’s concerns by reducing the number of units and dropping the height from three storeys to two.
“While it’s now clear Our Kerikeri’s request to work on the re-design was not accepted, it would seem the concerns of the whole community have been partially heard,” Dickey said.
“Our Kerikeri are still very concerned about the impact and future issues caused by density, inclusion of green space, clustering and commercial space. The charitable trust hopes to have meaningful consultation with Kāinga Ora and Gemscott about the other properties connected at 5 Clark Rd and 4 King St.”
That impact would be intensified when another property at 115 Kerikeri Rd was developed, although Kāinga Ora had committed to consulting the community about that site before going ahead with any construction.
Meaningful engagement and collaboration between developers and the local community was essential, Dickey said.
“This ensures that social and affordable housing aligns with the character and amenity value of small towns like Kerikeri, while also preserving social, cultural, economic and environmental well-being.”
The group also recognised, however, the “desperate need” for social and affordable housing in town.
According to the Far North District Council, the original resource consent application for 3 Clark Rd was lodged on February 16.
It was initially sent to a commissioner on May 1 for review but placed on hold, at Gemscott’s request, on May 11, one week after the public meeting.
An updated application was submitted by the developer on May 29 and was approved by the commissioner on June 1 as a non-notified consent.
Resource consent applications for the adjoining properties at 5 Clark Rd and 4 King St were withdrawn earlier this year.
Kāinga Ora Northland regional director Jeff Murray said options for those two sites were still being explored.
No date had been set for construction to start at 3 Clark Rd.
Community groups Our Kerikeri and Vision Kerikeri, which organised the May 3 public meeting, plan to contact their members this week to gather feedback about the latest development.