Kāinga Ora putting an Auckland social housing development on hold after neighbourhood backlash

The development on Bonair Crescent in the northern suburb of Millwater has been controversial since the beginning.
The development on Bonair Crescent in the northern suburb of Millwater has been controversial since the beginning. Photo credit: Supplied via RNZ

By Rayssa Almeida of RNZ

Kāinga Ora is putting one of its Auckland social housing developments on hold until the new year, after backlash from the neighbourhood.

The development on Bonair Crescent in the northern suburb of Millwater has been controversial since the beginning, with Kāinga Ora apologising for "missing a step" and not opening the project for community consultation.

The development was initially the construction of two-storey townhouses on Millwater Street and would add 37 two-bedroom social houses to the list.

However, back in June, after complaints and a petition from the community against the social housing development, Kāinga Ora paused the construction before it even started, and opened the project for consultation.

Kāinga Ora regional director Taina Jones said skipping the step was unfortunate.

We did not engage with the community, we completely missed that step, she said.

"We started that engagement process around June, and we had a number of different ways that community members could come to us and have those discussions.

"That's the approach that we normally take very early on, and in this case we didn't."

Jones said as Kāinga Ora held a resource consent that enables it to build homes in Bonair Crescent, the agency did not consider community engagement as it should have done.

A meeting between Kāinga Ora and Millwater residents happened at the end of November, when the decision on the development was due to be made.

Some of the complaints brought up by residents included safety and security, impact on current lifestyle, lack of social and hard infrastructure and potential loss of property values.

Residents, who RNZ has agreed not to name, said bringing social housing to the neighbourhood could also bring gang activity and change the character of the street.

"The kids here, they play freely, we have a balanced community at Bonair Crescent.

"I don't know if with a whole another community coming through, that would be the case," a neighbour said.

'Everything is on the table'

Taina Jones said after the feedback, Kāinga Ora decided to take a "wider look" in the region.

She said the land could be used for other types of affordable housing, which is also provided by the Crown agency.

At the moment, everything is on the table, Jones said.

"We might have to look at other opportunities around the Hibiscus and Bays areas, it will depend on the feedback we get from the community."

Jones said after the robust response from Millwater residents, Kāinga Ora has decided to look at the region as whole and deliver social housing with a wider approach.

"We will look at how and where we deliver public housing and other kinds of housing across Millwater, Silverdale, Orewa and the wider Hibiscus Coast, rather than focus on one specific site."

The Bonair Crescent development is one of 172 sites bought by Kāinga Ora in the last five years.

Through a statement sent to RNZ via the Official Information Act, Kāinga Ora said the agency did not keep a record of developments that didn't go ahead because of lack of communication with the community.

"From time to time when we are engaging with the community, we will put developments on hold in order to do so in good faith. "

It said Kāinga Ora is not aware of any developments that have not gone ahead at all due to lack of engagement with the community.

At Bonair Crescent, Jones said no work will be done until the Hibiscus and Bays region is looked at as a whole.

She said Kāinga Ora is looking to get more members of the community involved in the feedback process

A plan for the construction of affordable housing in the region should be coming in March next year.