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Fordlands residents want neighbourhood renewal

27 March 2014

Fordlands residents want neighbourhood renewal

Rotorua District Council and the Fordlands community are joining forces to revitalise the neighbourhood.

A leading edge ‘eco village’ prototype and community gardens that bring both food and colour to Fordlands were among ideas generated by residents at a meeting at Sunset Primary School last night [26 February].

The meeting saw members of the Fordlands Community Association, Fordlands Youth Committee and other residents joining with Rotorua District Councillor Janet Wepa and council staff to discuss ideas for revitalising the Rotorua neighbourhood.

“There are some really exciting ideas and as Council we’re doing our bit, but we want the community to take the ownership,” Mrs Wepa said.

“What the community wants is what we want – we’re keen to build resilient communities in Rotorua and this is just the start of a discussion and partnership approach we identified in council’s Rotorua 2030 vision.”

About 40 Fordlands residents attended Wednesday night’s meeting and told of their frustration about the dumping of rubbish on vacant properties, absent and “slum” landlords and their desire to improve the neighbourhood.

Councillor Wepa said the council was willing to work with the community but they, and all residents of Rotorua, needed to also take responsibility for maintaining their neighbourhoods.

Council revealed they were moving in a new direction for some of the solutions by partnering with landlords and other groups to clear up a number of vacant properties.

This Friday, a derelict house at 29 Bellingham Crescent, a property which the council recently agreed to purchase and sell, will be cleared by the New Zealand Fire Training Centre.

It will provide trainee firefighters with a controlled real fire experience, and at the same time quickly, cheaply and safely clearing the property as the house shell has been declared too far gone for safe removal.

Council clean-up and rubbish clearing will also be happening at numbers 1, 35 and 17 Bellingham Crescent this week.

Rotorua District Council currently has limited powers under law for dealing with these types of properties. However, Fordland residents see the council’s new approach and willingness to discuss future options, as positive.

“We’ve been talking about wanting these [derelict] houses to be knocked down for ages,” said Tepz of the Fordlands Youth Committee. “I’d like to see a community garden so the kids can see all the different kinds of plants. I’m sick of us being called the “shadow of Rotorua” – it would be cool to see some colour.”

“I like the way Council has reached out to the community and asked what we wanted,” said resident Maraea Pomana.

“It really feels like they have taken time to listen to the residents’ issues … this is a good start and I’m so happy the Youth Committee were here and want to be involved.”

The council will now collate information and ideas gathered and work through the Fordlands Community Association using tools like the Neighbourhood Matching Fund scheme to find ongoing opportunities for the Fordlands community to enhance their neighbourhood.

ENDS

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