A special partnership between Classic Group & Western Bay of Plenty District Council, aimed at bringing affordable housing to Omokoroa and giving more Kiwis a chance to get their foot on the property ladder.
Located off Omokoroa Road (in the burgeoning coastal peninsula of Omokoroa) is a 17.5ha special housing site that’s quickly transforming into a new community of unlikely home owners.
In 2016, Classic Group teamed up with the Western Bay of Plenty District Council (WBOPDC) to develop Kaimai Views (also known as the Omokoroa Housing Project) and bring affordable housing to the region.
50% of the homes (about 242 Classic House & Land lots) have been, and will continue to be, sold below the average median house price in the Western Bay of Plenty.
The project is being rolled out in nine stages, and at the time of writing (October 2020), we’re currently at stage five. The median house price for the Western Bay of Plenty as of April 19 was $655,000, and the third stage of homes released sold for $500,000 and under.
“When we looked at the land we had, we saw an opportunity to do something really good in terms of affordable housing.”
WBOPDC wanted to get on board with special housing legislation, which exists to provide housing that’s contemporary, affordable and accessible to a wider range of buyers.
“We saw Omokoroa had been designated as a smart growth area, and when we looked at the land we had, we saw an opportunity to do something really good in terms of affordable housing” says Blaise Williams, Kaimai Views Council Project Manager.
“The vision was to address, in some small way, the housing crisis New Zealand is facing by allowing people (who hadn’t previously had a chance to get into the housing market) the chance to buy their own home. We envisaged a five to 10 year project, dependent on demand. At the rate it’s going, it’s definitely going to be closer to five.”
When the WBOPDC called for an expression of interest from building and development companies, Classic Group was quick to put its hand up.
“We went through a procurement process to see who could help us best reach our aspirations, and came to the conclusion that Classic Group was the only option with the capacity and resources, as well as the track record, to deliver what we saw as a very important, and very large project”, Blaise explains.
“We saw a win-win opportunity to address a housing shortage by working with Classic to develop an affordable solution. It’s been a genuine collaboration to achieve what we have to date – the Classic team has proved they understand our vision to give people a chance to own their own home, when building one was previously out of reach.”
“By the time we’re finished, we’ll have close to 4km of beautiful walking tracks for locals to enjoy.”
The Classic team is continuing to work closely with WBOPDC through each stage of the development to price homes in line with the current median house price.
“The homes are priced in a way that lets people maximise their Kiwisaver and the first homebuyers grant,” says Blaise. “The houses aren’t just affordable, but high quality too. There are two, three and four bedroomed homes, with different roofing and cladding options so it doesn’t look like the suburbia we see in London. There’s also some nice variation in colour, materials and design.”
Project challenges so far have been around consenting and future maintenance, plus a few delays caused by upgrades to Omokoroa roading, but by working collaboratively the WBOPDC and Classic Group have been able to minimise any time losses – and actually jump ahead of schedule!
“We’ve developed a relationship where communication is really easy,” says Blaise. “We keep examining better ways of doing things – like damming a stream to be able to start developing walkways and reserve areas. We worked with Classic to install a large stormwater infrastructure that was needed to cope with at least 240 houses, and by the time we’re finished, we’ll have close to 4km of beautiful walking tracks for locals to enjoy.”
Kaimai Views has been met with great excitement, with most homes built then sold straight away.
“There’s an extreme shortage of houses in the Bay of Plenty, so we feel quite excited by the fact that people who previously had no hope of getting in on the housing market are now able to do so. People who have really struggled are just about in tears when they realise they’re eligible to live in this development – it’s wonderful to hear,” says Blaise.
“We operate an ‘open book’ policy with Classic, and they’ve been great to deal with. We understand it can be quite difficult for a commercial company to work with council as we have lots of regulations to follow, but they’ve done extremely well. The team always meets their commitments and they understand our vision to help the wider community. If we have the opportunity to do something similar in the future, Classic has proved to be an extremely worthy partner of council.”