At our meeting on Wednesday evening we heard about different ways of approaching housing development. Greer O’Donnell spoke about the spectrum of housing available. In New Zealand housing is often occupier-owned, market rental or government-provided social housing. The average family often finds it difficult to find affordable, long-term housing. That’s why new housing models such as community land trusts, co-operative housing and community housing providers are becoming more common. Adequate returns can be made with these housing models, though profit normally is not their main objective. Local and central government are only beginning to consider how they might encourage housing developments that are not necessarily mainly profit-orientated.
When looking at how the church could use the land for residential development, there are many options open. Even though the parish does not have much capital and not much expertise, it does have the land. Good partnerships are the key to achieving beneficial outcomes. We were told that there are many potential partners we could approach. When entering such a partnership, the parish would need to know what its role is. Would it be a land-owner, a master planner, a development partner, an asset owner, or the partner of a Community Housing Provider?
Any proposal would need to consider adequate levels of ongoing revenue for the church, the level of control the church wants to retain, addressing community needs and the sense of vibrancy that may be created. When we look at the future of the church are we mainly concerned with financial security or do we take some risks to interact with others? These decisions also need to be taken in the context of how this parish participates in God’s mission to the world. How can we convey the good news in word and action?
I think it is worthwhile to explore possible development partnerships further and hope we can build on that while keeping a possible sale in mind. I encourage you to think and pray about your concerns and dreams for the land, the church and the wider community.