Tauranga Council to buy Bella Vista homes

UPDATED: 7pm.Tauranga City Council Elected Members have voted in principle to purchase the 21 Bella Vista Homes properties, which were part of the failed subdivision at The Lakes in Tauranga.

Mayor Greg Brownless and Council staff met with homeowners this evening to deliver the decision, which Elected Members say they felt was the right way forward for all.


“The homeowners have, in their words, been ‘to hell and back’. First, with the liquidation of the developer and watching work stop on their properties, to then being evacuated, and living with the uncertainty of what would happen.

“We have listened to homeowners, who told us that purchasing the properties was their desired outcome,” says Mayor Brownless.

“Councillors had to consider all of the options, but based on the advice we received, we believe this is the appropriate way forward.”

Lee Konowe, speaking after the decision. Photo: Supplied.

Homeowner Lee Konowe, one of the four home owners planning to sue the Tauranga City Council over the affair, says the response from home owners to the decision was muted.

“Reaction in the room? I thought the reaction was muted, since most of us understood that that was the most likely outcome. I think we were all reasonably sure that something like this outcome was coming. It is the quickest way to wipe the slate.

“We are probably 65 per cent down the road, but we are certainly not at the end of the process,” says Lee.

He would have been more satisfied if terms like ‘market value’ and ‘damages’ been used by the council.

Home owners who need rental support will now receive that says Lee, but people do not yet have the money to go and buy another house, and they do not know when they will be able to do that.

“It’s still a very emotional issue. A home we designed, shepherded through two and a half years is now going to be ripped apart and that is hurtful. But that is the process we are committed to and we understand it.”

Paul Heath QC was hired by the council as an independent investigator. His report calls for further investigation to find out why the council failed to adequately perform relevant regulatory functions.

But he adds that his findings that the council didn’t perform its resource consent and Building Act regulatory functions adequately, does not mean the council is necessarily liable to home owners who have suffered loss.

Bella Vista home owners were evicted from their properties four of which were fully consented and compliant, since March 9.  The council initially paid for the home owners’ accommodation but later stopped that.

Paul Heath finds the four properties that did receive code of compliance should not have, and that it was appropriate for the council to declare all the buildings in the Bella Vista sub division either dangerous or affected on the basis of the advice it received.


Earlier today, homeowners, or their representatives, had an opportunity to present to Elected Members.
Council has also today formally received the independent investigation report by former High Court Judge Mr Paul Heath QC, who presented to Councillors via video link from Singapore. Elected Members had the opportunity to ask questions of Mr Heath QC, before they went into three hours of deliberations.

Mr Heath’s report recommends that “Council takes immediate steps to resolve outstanding differences between the homeowners and itself.” It notes that “…the benefits of early resolution far outweigh any desire to have the homeowners’ claims tested in Court.” 

Mayor Brownless has acknowledged homeowners for their patience over the past five months.

“We want to thank the homeowners, their families, and the public who have supported them throughout this ordeal. We also acknowledge the efforts of our staff who have worked hard to get to this point,” says Mayor Brownless.

Council will now look to begin negotiations with individual homeowners to achieve full and final settlement. While there is no time frame set for the negotiations, Chief Executive Garry Poole says Council will move as quickly as possible to have the matter resolved.

“We know that this has been a difficult situation for homeowners and residents, who have been living in temporary accommodation since March, but we hope that today’s decision lifts some weight off their shoulders,” says Mr Poole.

Council has released the full report by Mr Paul Heath QC, which finds that while Council dealt adequately with resource consent applications made in relation to the Bella Vista subdivision, but that he believes in other areas it failed.

Mr Heath QC has recommended that a further investigation be launched, once the issues with these homes are resolved, to identify “why” this happened. Council intends to look further at this recommendation.  

The cost of purchasing the 21 properties is unknown and will be part of the negotiations. 


16 Comments

Do the RIGHT thing

Posted on 16-06-2018 16:23 | By StevieB

If ’Council’ really want to do the right thing, I think buying the properties is not enough to compensate the owners as this only returns the money that they paid or are out of pocket. In reality, the home owners are more disadvantaged now, than before they started because section prices & building costs have increased & they are effectively now worse off than their per-start financial position(s). This is because they need more deposit & a higher loan to replicate a new build in the same area. I think the council should purchase sections & build new homes to the same specifications of each home affected and then swap the completed property (once fully signed off) for the bad ones. Only this action, will mean the property owners are restored to the financial position they were in. C’mon Council, do the RIGHT THING, not the cheapest.

Bella Vista Council Clean Out

Posted on 11-06-2018 18:21 | By BAATS

Now that we know who is paying - God bless we ratepayers - and allowing that the CEO is leaving (good) may I suggest that he take all the senior council management with him and let someone else employ real people who know what work is and who have some experience and not just fancy degrees rebuild a reduced effective team - perhaps this should the first job of our new CEO who hopefully will prove much more competent than Poole. Frank Webster.

Two million and counting

Posted on 07-06-2018 09:10 | By earlybird

Good result, hopefully, for the poor homeowners, but who pays, and by that I mean who in council had a hand in creating the environment that allowed this monumental stuff up to occur and will therefore be dealt with appropriately. I appreciate that Tauranga is growing rapidly and therefore there must be enormous pressure on the building inspection team BUT that is not an excuse for allowing a stuff up of this magnitude. 21 buildings involved - it would be bad enough if it was one or two, but 21!! Sorry to say this, but the council staff who had a hand in enabling this must be accountable and face the consequences. I think that ratepayers, who will ultimately fund some if not all of the final cost, deserve to know that accountability has been served, and council must keep us fully informed.

And the beat goes on......

Posted on 07-06-2018 08:45 | By rastus

Can anyone give me (us) a rational reason why all those licensed/certified persons who were (maybe still are) employed by our council to carry out all oversight of all matters pertaining to the process of erecting a new building and were involved with this debacle are not now facing criminal charges - even if the least charge be demonstrably receiving money by false pretenses? - Beats me - and the social media grapevine is also indicating that this well paid incompetence has been the case at TCC for many years!

as predicted

Posted on 07-06-2018 08:29 | By maildrop

QC says no need for a ’witch hunt’! Err, yes there is Sir. Ratepayers are stumping up hard earned cash to buy a pile of crap that Bodgett & Scarpa built, while Danny boy and his inspector mate are driving round in swanky cars. Criminal. And a witch hunt is most definitely required.

those who failed in there work pay

Posted on 07-06-2018 08:09 | By hapukafin

How long has our council been signing off houses?Those responsible for it and those who hired them should be the ones to make good the buy out NOT THE RATE PAYERS,just like in any other business.Is there someone out there that knows the law on this.

ratepayers

Posted on 07-06-2018 07:54 | By Captain Sensible

Ratepayers....the mugs that keep on giving. The mugs that pay for TCC’s negligence and incompetence. The mugs that pay for things they don’t use or want. The mugs who face hefty rate increases every year despite getting no salary rises.

Really

Posted on 06-06-2018 21:42 | By Sg1nz

Do any of you people live in the real world. This is why companies have insurance. But at the end of the day Mr Danny gets away scott free with all the money and is back building again. Yes whoever runs the building function at TCC should resign, but Danny should be in jail.

The Government

Posted on 06-06-2018 21:38 | By Merlin

The government should step in and appoint a commissioner to investigate or run this incompetent council.

AND the REAL QUESTION must be:-

Posted on 06-06-2018 20:22 | By The Caveman

HOW MANY other recent builds in the TCC area that have been "signed off" by the Council building inspectors have similar problems, that have not yet been identified. ANYBODY that has a house that has been built in the TCC area, in the last 5/7 years needs to get a totally independent comprehensive inspection done for their house – money a problem – talk to your bank – add the cost to you mortgage – FOR YOUR peace of mind !! Clearly there has been a HUGE problem with the TCC building inspection unit - and the TCC has been charging tens of 1000"s for what has now been shown as not even worth the building consent - without the actual inspections.

And we want a museum?

Posted on 06-06-2018 19:42 | By Bwucee

There is some of the story revealed here but the actions by Council imply there is a little bit more behind the scenes. Senior management in private enterprise would fall on their swords, there have been a few of late. Council just glides along and bills the ratepayer. Where is the accountability here?

TCC

Posted on 06-06-2018 19:16 | By dumbkof2

This is just another TCC debarcle that is going to cost us the ratepayers more money. Add this to the museum catastrophy and watch the rates go up.

Ratepayer

Posted on 06-06-2018 19:12 | By Feruno

Why are the individual council members not being held responsible for this mess . The people who approved the building progress should not get away with this debacle . The taxpayer should not foot this bill;

Without doubt.......

Posted on 06-06-2018 18:59 | By groutby

....this is the ’humane’ decision to make and indeed the correct one (in my opinion), however once again the cost falls on the ratepayer (if no insurance option available) to cover for the ongoing tragedy that is TCC. This however is interesting: ....’while Council dealt adequately with resource consent applications made in relation to the Bella Vista subdivision, but that he believes in other areas it failed.’....I wait with anticipation as to that outcome, I still expect some sort of cover up sadly. Congratulations to the owners, and may your expectations in regard to future home ownership be far exceeded by exemplary performance by TCC should you have need to use them....as should be expected by all.

M.Mouse

Posted on 06-06-2018 18:48 | By M. Mouse

Obviously this is cheaper then having staff permanently on site checking the work well spentTCC

Taxpayer pays

Posted on 06-06-2018 18:17 | By Bradswife

The taxpayer will suffer .....where else do they get the money from.

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