City Councillor fears for lack of community vibe around Peacocke build

Hamilton City Councillor Paula Southgate says that communities need to be built around the new housing areas in the Peacocke and Rotokauri areas in order to make the infrastructure deal a real success.

Farmland in Hamilton’s southern boundaries will be turned into residential housing after the city received a $272m loan from Government as part of the Housing Infrastructure Fund. It means a further 3700 houses in the next ten years, but crucially, growth in the south of the city.

But expansion isn’t going to be the ‘silver bullet’ for many of Hamilton’s ratepayers.

City councillor Paula Southgate says the work around creating flourishing communities in these areas should be high on the priority list.

“I’m a strong advocate for building a better city, not just a bigger city, because bigger is not always better.”

Concerns have arisen from ratepayers as to the actual number of dollars being spent on housing builds in Peakcocke. Numbers revealed by the Waikato Times on Tuesday suggested that very little, if any, of the money was being spent on anything other than infrastructure.

A new bridge across the Waikato River plus a serious expansion of Wairere Drive takes up $56.5m alone.

“The question to be asked is, how do we fund our new housing areas and how do we fund the city. That includes the existing facilities and services. We need to make sure we provide for ratepayers, both current and incoming, so we need to make sure these housing areas actually have real communities.”

It is the role of the City Council to provide infrastructure that opens up opportunities for housing before developers can begin work.

Southgate says that there is no point in borrowing all the money from Government if the city cannot use it in a useful way.

Decisions will be made in the coming weeks when Council sits down to discuss its Ten Year Plan. Hamilton is already under pressure to provide answers over the future of several community facilities. Southgate is cautious that a lack of development for community services will face similar issues in Peacocke as to what is currently being seen in the north of the city.

The ‘silver bullet’ Southgate talks about on her Facebook page isn’t easily found, but Southgate is adamant that different alternatives

“I just don’t believe that building a very large new subdivision is going to immediately address house prices and availability”.

More on this will be discussed during a full interview with Southgate this Friday on Free FM.

HCC boss cautious about city’s infrastructure promises

Over 3700 new houses are expected to be built in Hamilton over the course of the next ten years.

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King is delighted with the result and says that development in the south is key to the city’s future.

“We are now one step closer to delivering on a promise we made to Hamiltonians a long time ago, to develop Peococke.”

The project will work as a three way partnership between Government, local Council, and developers. While 3700 new homes are expected initially, King projected that a total of 8000 homes would be built within the next 30 years.

Hamilton City Council CEO Richard Briggs didn’t seem so confident however, saying there is still a lot of work to do in order to ensure that no surprises emerge. Briggs believes that once public consultation has been sought, and a business case has been accepted, it will still take another four to five years until a clearer picture about completion emerges.

“We are not at the final stage yet. The Council will have to make some hard decisions to make during their 10 Year Plan discussions about what projects take priority.”

The announcement was made at a press conference in Hamilton on Tuesday –  but the hard work in implementing this plan is yet to begin.

Hamilton mayor Andrew King indifferent on disabled community

Hamilton mayor Andrew King. Photo: Newsday

Hamilton mayor Andrew King hasn’t had much to do with disability over the course of his life.

Disability advocates and group organisations will have to go to the council’s Community Committee to have their voices heard by the mayor.

Elected in October last year, King himself hasn’t spoken a lot about disability until this point.

“I don’t have a lot to do with people with disabilities so I don’t know”, the mayor said.

During the campaign; candidates for Hamilton mayor spoke to the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA) about access and disability. That night, King spoke of his first job where he was in contact with a tetraplegic man. That was on the campaign trail back in August 2016.

This week, King was asked if he would have discussions with the city’s disability community about their views on access issues and community inclusion. King’s response may alarm some in Hamilton’s disabled community; he was adamant that such conversations wouldn’t be a part of his mayoral responsibilities.

“No, I don’t need to know”, King said, “if there was a need then yes I would, but I don’t believe there is a real reason for me to get involved”, King added.

At the Hamilton City council, there are three social committees that cover community, infrastructure and growth, plus a finance committee. King believes that disability issues belong in with the community committee. King does sit on the community committee meetings but says he’d be hesitant to have a discussion with the council’s own Access Advisory Group.

The Access Advisory Group is a key part of disability advocacy at the Hamilton City Council. Together with the group, the council has a Disability Policy that promises to ensure that council services, activities, and facilities will be responsive to the needs of disabled people. King says he doesn’t have contact with the Access Advisory Group.

“The community committee is where those discussions would be appropriate” King said, “it’s not something I am prepared to take on without support from the full committee”, King added.

In June 2016, the council released its Disability Policy alongside an Action Plan that focuses on five core goals. The council also has a Disability Advisor that sits on the Community Committee.