What Housing New Zealand actually wants to do in Epsom

  • 23/05/2018

Housing New Zealand (HNZ) has revealed what's in store for Epsom residents under its controversial state housing redevelopment.

Plans released to Newshub show the scope of the proposed complex at Banff Avenue, which has stirred up fear and angst in the high socio-economic suburb.

"The two existing 1970s buildings, comprised of eight bedsits and a standalone garage, are past their useful live," HNZ chief operating officer Paul Commons said in a statement.

"We plan to replace the existing buildings with 25 warm, dry, modern homes across five levels - 16 one-bedroom and nine two-bedroom homes. These will include five units for those with accessibility needs."

The old buildings.
The old buildings. Photo credit: Housing New Zealand / Supplied

Once the new homes are completed, they will be matched to eligible people from the social housing register.

Photos taken by HNZ show the ramshackle state of the current dwellings.

An image of the proposed replacement offers a stark contrast - an attractive modern-designed complex with wooden balconies, fronted by large glass panels. HNZ says it will include double glazing, insulation and modern materials and fittings inside and out.

The proposed new complex.
The proposed new complex. Photo credit: Housing New Zealand / Supplied

But it's those on the inside who concern the community. Epsom residents claim past tenants have urinated in public and abused and harassed women, according to Epsom MP David Seymour.

The ACT Party leader sent a letter warning of the risks the new tenants could pose, and called on residents to express their discontent.

"There is also a chance that some of the future residents will have social and mental health issues who will need to have special support measures in place," he wrote.

It drew a sharp rebuke from Housing Minister Phil Twyford, who described it as "appalling" and accused him of scaremongering.

The old buildings.
The old buildings. Photo credit: Housing New Zealand / Supplied

HNZ says it has a plan to handle any problems. All tenants will have to sign a tenancy agreement which requires that they abide by the Residential Tenancies Act.

"Some tenants have social and health needs and that includes people with mental illness. These are people who need housing and can live successfully in our communities," Mr Commons says.

"We encourage our tenants to act as good neighbours and we expect tenants to be responsible, considerate, tolerant and law-abiding.

"We have a planned and comprehensive policy for managing any behaviour which is deemed anti-social."