Having spent a decade working in Australia, Bahrain and London, Joel Webber returned to Christchurch in 2016 to raise his family in the town he grew up in.
With more than 16 years’ experience in property, Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust were lucky to acquire Joel for the role of Property Development Manager in May 2018. He is now on the cusp of completing the Trust’s first development since it took over management of the social housing portfolio from the Christchurch City Council in 2016. The eight-unit development at Louisson Place in Opawa will be opened just prior to Christmas 2018.
“Louisson Place is the Trust’s first development and so far, it has been seamless. This is largely thanks to our outstanding project manager, Judith Jehru of Rangzen Project Management, who is passionate about her job. We are tracking on budget and on time,” says Joel.
The Louisson Place development involved the relocation of eight-units from the Linwood Park village. These units passed into Trust ownership in 2017 as part of an agreement with Christchurch City Council and MBiE.
Joel says the relocation has gone very well, but now it is a matter of settling the units into their surrounds.
“We are focused on creating tenure-blind social housing. This means, for the benefit of the tenants and the neighbourhood, that the social housing is undistinguishable from the adjacent private homes. With the relocated units there is no escaping their unique look due to the coloursteel cladding. We will enhance this development through landscaping, fencing, decking and other improvements which we hope will help the units fit into the surrounding neighbourhood,” says Joel.
Developing projects like Louisson Place is a core function of Joel’s role as Property Development Manager.
“I work to identify land that is going to work for social housing. This means working with feasibility models and identifying what types of homes and locations are going to work best for tenants, what is needed and what meets the requirements for central government funding,” says Joel.
More recently Joel has started conversing with tenants and the Tenant Advisory Group of the Trust to understand what matters to them and what they desire in a home.
“Not only do I speak to tenants to understand their needs, I also spend time working closely with our 12 tenancy managers. This is a massive pool of in-house expertise and I enjoy picking their brains to understand what works and what doesn’t for social housing developments,” says Joel.
Joel’s desire to understand the needs of others, is just one of the reasons the opportunity with the Trust stood out to him.
“In Bahrain I worked in social housing, but on a massive scale. It was a development of just under 5000 affordable and social housing units. When I returned to Christchurch, I took a role working on a private development project. While it was great experience and a terrific reintroduction into the Christchurch property market, the nature of project-based work is that projects come to an end. In a case of great timing the role with OCHT came up at the same time which gave me the opportunity to move back into the social housing development space. What I enjoy is doing something good with my skill set that is closely aligned with my morals and ethics,” says Joel.
Not just passionate about people and property development, Joel is a keen outdoorsman and traveller.
“I have been lucky to have experienced some fantastic things while I travelled. Some of my more memorable adventures include dog sledding on the Arctic circle and climbing the Matterhorn in Switzerland. Since returning home to start my family, life is a little slower. I now enjoy biking and get outdoors when I can. My two-year-old son, Hugo, and my little girl, Grace, keep me busy also.”