It was launched with fantastic fanfare, but wet weather and asbestos at a flagship Government housing project, have already delayed the first stage of work by several months.
The $750 million project, opened by then Housing New Zealand Minister Bill English last September, will demolish 300 Housing New Zealand properties in Northcote on Auckland’s North Shore, and build up to 1200 in their place, over the course of five years.
Of the latter, a total of 400 will be social housing homes, while 600 to 800 properties will be sold-off as a mix of affordable and market housing.
The first stage of the project was set to cost $30 million, demolishing 20 houses to build 59 new social housing homes, and was initially estimated to wrap-up by June of this year.
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But developers HLC – Homes. Land. Community, formerly Hobsonville Land Company – have reported that a harsh, wet winter and surprise asbestos at the site have pushed the estimated completion date to September or October.
“There was more work to be done on the site than we initially thought,” HLC chief executive Chris Aiken said.
“You never know what’s under these ancient houses.”
Project precinct director Mark Fraser said the work was moving quite quick when the asbestos, used for underground piping in the demolished homes, was uncovered.
He said it was a honestly common material to find in houses built in the 1950s and 1960s, such as those demolished.
But as a serious health hazard, the project team took their time removing the material so it wouldn’t be a problem for any future users of the sites.
“It can be a bit of a slow, carefully methodical process to make sure that we take it out and we get all of it,” Fraser said.
He was ‘annoyed’ by the setbacks, but pleased overall with the development of the project.
“We’re really pleased with how it’s going. We’re annoyed with the weather and the asbestos, but that’s life, that’s a construction project,” Fraser said.
“It’s a huge piece of work we’re taking on over the next few years. We’re only doing it once, so we want to do it properly.”
As of Wednesday, nine of the first 59 houses had the roofing and jib-boarding installed.
When stage one is completed, work will start on the remaining 340 social homes and the 600 to 800 commercial homes.
Aiken said, of those, 20 to 30 per cent would fall into the affordable home range.
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