New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young rebuts simplistic view of what Marfell needs.
Demand for Housing NZ properties has been extremely low in Marfell. Even people having to utilise temporary emergency housing have turned down opportunities, which is surprising and disappointing, says Young, as there is capacity to assist.
Despite this, Housing NZ has said they have nearly 1,000 properties in New Plymouth and are confident they can meet the needs of people on MSD’s social housing register, placing on average two families a week over the past year.
It is understandable that since 2011 Housing New Zealand Corporation has had to divert focus and assets to rebuild state housing in Christchurch after the earthquake. However as this is now completed, I fully expect renewed attention on the Marfell suburb, says Young.
Young says the long term solution is to see the suburb revitalised and that will still need a private sector partner to help develop the area through renovating existing homes and building new ones for the open market, especially first home buyers.
Earlier this year I visited the Pomare housing development in Hutt Valley to learn how private developers partnered with Housing New Zealand to redevelop the area. I met with senior staff of Housing New Zealand in Wellington to talk about this process and how Marfell could be benefited by this approach.
Regarding the present condition of some Housing NZ properties in Marfell, Young says a lack of maintenance is something which needs to be addressed very quickly. Either the houses should be renovated or removed by Housing NZ, or as a third option, sold on at an appropriate price for others to do that. Leaving them as they are is no longer an acceptable alternative.
It is unacceptable that taxpayer assets are left to devalue, as well as be allowed to create a negative social effect in the area.
Young is well aware of the complex issues Housing New Zealand face, in that they have too many properties that are of the wrong type in areas where they are not needed, and not enough in areas of high demand such as Auckland; so selling some of Housing NZ’s properties in Marfell is a real option – something which he has discussed with Housing NZ.
However, I am very concerned who would buy them and for what purposes. We don’t want property investors buying them up only to become absentee landlords. The Marfell area would benefit from more home owners or a committed social housing trust who will invest in their properties and be part of the visual and social lift that the area deserves. As we see the Marfell area improve, demand for housing will only grow in the area, says Young.
Marfell has never been a closed file for me, says Young. I’ve brought a number of Government Ministers to Marfell over this past year to discuss the potential of the area, especially for the development of an affordable home ownership scheme, which I see as the greatest opportunity.
Alongside the New Plymouth District Council, I am collaborating with different agencies and organisations to see a development plan established for Marfell. A very important part of this is engaging with the local residents about how they see their community and what they want to see happen there. All of this is a long and slow process, says Young, but work is presently being done and I have full confidence that a positive and forward looking plan will be in place for Marfell in time.