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Porirua to get NZ’s first CitiBlox relocatable apartments


Porirua to get NZ’s first CitiBlox relocatable apartments.

Wellington property developer Ian Cassels has unveiled plans to build six relocatable apartments on council-owned land in Porirua. The modular 72m2 two-bedroomed units will be prefabricated in a local factory, trucked to the site and bolted together in blocks three units high.

Cassels, director of The Wellington Company, says the venture will be the first step in his innovative $75 million CitiBlox housing concept, which aims to help solve the country’s chronic shortage of social and affordable homes. The unique units can be disconnected and removed from their location, allowing temporary use of vacant land that is unavailable for permanent structures, such as Crown-owned land set aside for future rail or road corridors. “There is a shortage of well-priced land for building houses in New Zealand’s cities, so this is about using land in a different way,” he says.

The Wellington Company hopes to build its first CitiBlox units on a former car park near Porirua’s train station. Cassels aims to have six units on site and ready to rent by mid-next year. Each unit will rent for about $300 to $400 a week. He has started talks with the Government about a partnership to temporarily place 2000 CitiBlox apartments on vacant Crown land in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

“The Government and local authorities are sitting on massive amounts of land,” he says. Much of it is stockpiled for future use, which may be decades away. “If you can use that land in a temporary way, it becomes feasible to put housing on it. While you have to accept that you may have to move them one day, that shouldn’t stop you if the units are easy to move. “It’s a quick fix that will lower the cost of living in cities.”

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The Wellington Company has been working on the CitiBlox concept for about five years. A prototype unit was built several years ago, but construction has started on an improved version, due for completion in the next three months. Cassels says they will be high-quality, double-glazed apartments and perfectly appropriate for permanent locations. They will be equipped with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, bathroom and deck. The design has a Multiproof nationwide building approval from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, which speeds up planned developments because it means only land-use consents are needed.

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