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Gov backing mooted for big Wellington public housing project

Wellington’s public housing is set to get a major boost with Housing New Zealand and Wellington City Council proposing a partnership agreement for the government agency to take a long-term lease of the city’s Arlington complex.

Subject to public consultation, Housing New Zealand will develop between 230 and 300 homes on the site in Mt Cook, which will include up to 40 supported-living units for Wellington’s most vulnerable homeless people.

The proposal will be on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the Council’s City Strategy Committee.

“This will make a significant difference for Wellington housing. The new Arlington development will be a high-quality mix of public and affordable housing, be close to the city centre and help address a shortage of accommodation for people on housing waiting lists and homeless people,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester.

“There are about 60 people living rough in central Wellington. There are 386 people on the Ministry of Social Development’s waiting list and 72 in transitional housing seeking permanent homes. A development of this scale will go a long way to addressing our housing needs.”

The Arlington complex in Mt Cook has been public housing since it was built in the 1970s but had become tired, dilapidated and unfit for purpose. Last year the council finished redevelopment of a 104-unit block on part of the site, now called Te Māra.

“One of the reasons Wellington is such an attractive place is the thriving central city. But we need the CBD to be affordable for all. We’re also seeking to ensure homeless people have the health and social services they need in their new home.

This builds on Council’s commitment to public and affordable housing in the city. Last year the Council teamed up with a private developer to convert inner city office space into affordable apartments.

“Wellington City Council is using a number of tools to ensure everyone has warm, dry accommodation,” the Mayor says.

“We are delighted to partner with Housing New Zealand and I am sure the city will be better for it.”

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford says the Arlington complex offers Housing New Zealand a rare opportunity to develop public housing in inner Wellington.

“This is a significant development opportunity for Housing New Zealand to increase the supply of public and affordable housing in the Wellington CBD.

“These will be high-quality homes with onsite treatment for those who need it the most. The Government is committed to helping those in need and Arlington is perfectly placed for those on Wellington’s streets.

“This project is a great example of local government and central government working collaboratively to help meet the increasing demand for housing.
Councillor Brian Dawson, who holds the housing portfolio, says Council has developed a masterplan for Arlington.

“Our plan shows how the best use can be made of this tricky site while Housing New Zealand will need to make that work for them. We are confident the final outcome will be positive for the area and the city as a whole.

“We completed Te Māra last year, which shows just how well public housing can be built in Wellington.”

The proposed lease term is 125 years. More details on the number and type of homes, and the build timeline will be known in a few months as Housing New Zealand progresses planning for the site.

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