Council wants mix of public and private housing at Arlington redevelopment

Press Release – Wellington City Council
The Wellington City Council has been scrutinising its social housing business model, its portfolio and the way it charges rent as it continues its commitment to the long-term provision of quality social housing in the city.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says the city will remain committed to the long-term provision of social housing in the city and give the best possible value to tenants.

“Our social housing services must be sustainable and affordable while we complete our portfolio to a modern standard. Everyone deserves a warm home. Alternative medium-density housing, close to amenities, is essential for the growing Wellington population.”

She says the Council has set three priorities for its social housing vision through to 2040 including quality housing, fit for purpose and in the right place, getting the best results through innovation and smart partnerships, and sustainable social housing that is affordable for tenants and affordable for the city.

The Council is committed to spending another $180 million over the next 10 years to complete its $400 million Housing Upgrade Programme which began in 2008.

Councillor Paul Eagle, Chair of the City Council’s Community, Sport and Recreation Committee, which is responsible for social housing, says key decisions were made at its April meeting.

“We’ve agreed to retain ownership of our social housing to at least 2037 and continue in-house delivery of social housing services. We provide just under 50% of all social housing in the city and we’ve built that up over 75 years. We know our tenants are struggling to make ends meet. So we’ve asked council officers to make sure affordability for tenants is properly understood before considering changes to the structure for rental subsidies.

“We’re extremely proud of what’s been achieved since the Housing Upgrade Programme kicked-off in 2008,” says Cr Eagle.

· On completion of Arlington Site 2 in 2018, the first tranche of the HUP, part-funded by a $220 million Crown grant, will have delivered nine upgraded, warmer, drier housing complexes, five of which were quake-strengthened, containing 950 upgraded social housing units (45% of portfolio).

· 50 new or upgraded on-site indoor and outdoor community facilities for tenants around the city, and a dedicated community development programme supporting tenant communities.

· Over this period we have also made dozens more homes warmer and drier through ongoing renewals, improved our focus on tenant welfare and customer service and strengthened links with support providers in the community.

With demolition now under way on Arlington Site 2 between Taranaki and Hopper streets, the Council’s focus has turned to finding an innovative way to develop Arlington Site 1, on the western side of Hopper Street, including the George Porter Tower and surrounding apartments.

Site 1 currently has 192 Council units. The District Plan allows for higher density than this on the site, but the Council already has 400 other social housing units on the CBD fringe at Central Park, Berkeley Dallard and Pukehinau, as well as 105 to be built on Arlington Site 2.

In this light, the Council is inviting interested parties to discuss the possibility of a joint development on Arlington site 1, with a mix of social housing alongside private housing.

The Council has posted a formal notice on the Government’s GETS tendering website to attract proposals for Arlington site 1. Proposals will be accepted until 8 July.

Cr Eagle says: “We are intent on finding innovative ways to overcome the challenges of providing sustainable social housing; with new approaches to projects such as we did with Arlington Site 2, and will continue with Arlington Site 1, and forming smart partnerships to achieve our goals.”

Other new approaches include the prospect of selling properties that are hard to tenant, despite long waiting lists, to reinvest into upgrading or acquiring housing that better matches needs.

The Council expects to discuss the affordable rental strategy, a broader affordable housing strategy, and possibilities for Arlington Site 1 development at a Community, Sport and Recreation Committee meeting in September this year.

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