Housing Upgrades Have Started

27 July 2009

Construction workers have moved in at Te Ara Hou, the first Wellington City Council housing complex to be upgraded under a joint venture between the Council and the Government.

Workers emptying flats at Te Ara Hou.

Workers emptying flats at Te Ara Hou.

The work is part of a massive project to upgrade all of the Council's housing stock over the next 20 years. We have more than 2300 housing units spread over 40 sites around the city - and 126 houses. The Council's properties are home to nearly 4000 tenants.

The Government is paying $220 million towards the cost of the upgrade in the first 10 years and we'll use housing rental income to fund the second decade of the project.

Project Director Byron Roff says the work is a necessary part of being a good landlord.  "The upgrade will make all our social housing safer, warmer and more modern. Our flats will be a much better place to live," he says.

"The work will also make some of the bigger housing complexes a more attractive part of Wellington. For example, we'll landscape the grounds at Te Ara Hou and Central Park Flats, two of our biggest housing complexes, and paint the buildings in a new colour scheme."

It is proposed to redevelop Marshall Court in Miramar and Regent Park in Newtown as family-sized accommodation and they'll get a contemporary look in keeping with their neighbourhoods.

"Wellington's changed a lot since these complexes were built in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then we were housing a lot of single working men who'd come to Wellington to build things like the motorway and Airport, but now there's a demand for more family-sized housing," Byron says.

At Te Ara Hou, builders are now starting to install heating and improve ventilation and insulation to make the flats warmer and drier. The kitchens and bathrooms will be improved and new curtains and paint will make the place look more attractive.

The grounds will also be landscaped and better rubbish and recycling systems will be installed - all by June next year. We have found tenants accommodation while their flats are being upgraded.

Construction will start on Hanson Court, Central Park and Regent Park - consecutively over the next two years.

"We know it's not enough to just improve the buildings. We want our tenants to feel they belong and they're part of a caring community. Social isolation is a real issue for many of our tenants," says Byron. "Through our Community Action programme we're building communal spaces where people can congregate and feel safe."

The Council has got tenants involved in the design of their complexes, helped them build community gardens, developed barbecue areas and common rooms at some sites, and held art and dance workshops for children and young people.