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Prefab houses get the green light

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/07/2016

The government is going ahead with its plan to build prefab houses for emergency accommodation.

The first three sites have been chosen in South Auckland with total space for up to 140 houses.

They'll be used to test the cost and speed of construction and there could soon be more in the pipeline.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says most of the prefabs - she calls them modular homes - will have one or two bedrooms, and will be modern and comfortable.

Ms Bennett floated the idea last month but at that time she didn't know whether they were a viable option.

They'll be similar to the pop-up homes built in Christchurch after the earthquakes, and Ms Bennett says families could start moving in by next autumn.

"Modular housing is a pragmatic approach that allows us to move ahead with growing the supply of social and affordable housing, while continuing to house the people who most need our support," she said on Tuesday.

Ms Bennett started looking at prefab homes because social housing occupancy in Auckland was running at 97 per cent.

She says the first batch will be used for people who most need them but they'll also be used to re-house existing tenants who need to be moved because of redevelopment.

"While Housing New Zealand has a pipeline of construction underway in Auckland, the tight housing market means we cannot easily move people out while we redevelop existing properties," Ms Bennett said.

Her officials are negotiating leases for the three sites and a supplier is still to be chosen.

Ms Bennett says before construction can begin, Auckland Council needs to finalise its unitary plan which will set site density.

That's due in August.

"We will then move quickly to lodge resource consents, with earthworks to begin by December and the first tenants moving in by autumn 2017," she said.

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