Bella Vista: ’Small victory’ in long battle

Defunct Tauranga housing development Bella Vista Housing Development. - Photo: RNZ / Eva Corlett. The video is a summary of Paul Heath QC's report.

Residents of the botched Bella Vista development have compared losing their homes to a funeral of a loved one.

The Tauranga City Council has opted to buy the 21 condemned properties after signing off on shoddy work that left the buildings too dangerous to live in.

It will demolish them before selling off the land but residents haven't been told how long that will take or when they can expect to see the compensation.

The residents say the council's decision is a small victory in a long battle.

One resident, Lee Konowe, says the homeowners were muted when the council delivered the announcement due to gaps in the information.

"What we don't have is: a timeline, a date, quantum, a formula for how we arrive at the value of those properties."

Lee says the meeting went as far as it could but didn't resolve for homeowners when they would be able to buy a new house.

The residents had committed to that option but it was a painful one, he said.

"It's still a very emotional issue. The home we designed, and sheparded through the last two years, is now going to be ripped apart," he says. "That's hurtful."

Lee and another family had filed proceedings against the council for their role in the shoddy work.

He is yet to decide whether he will retract them.

Residents Degen Prodger and Jenny Coffey were relieved at the council's decision and thanked the community for backing the homeowners.

"It's great to hear that it was a unanimous decision, because that means [the council] heard us," says Degen.

Jenny says she's "humbled" by the wider community support.

Earlier in the day, the residents had made impassioned pleas to the council to buy the properties off them for their market value before the defects were found.

Andre Stewart says the proceedings left the group raw.

"We walked away from there heartbroken for each other.

"But we stuck together throughout this process and we walk away with a small victory."

The council also released details of an independent investigation into its responsibilities and possible failings led by former High Court Judge Paul Heath QC.

The report found the council had dealt adequately with resource consents but failed in areas such as monitoring and inspections.

It did not deal with issues of liability but Mr Heath said another independent investigation to determine that was critical.

That was cold comfort to Lee.

"I don't think he got to the issue of liability sufficiently," he says. "That needs to be considered first."

The council's chief executive Gary Poole agreed that work was not carried out adequately.

Gary "respects" that Paul had called for an investigation to make sure it did not happen again and the council would seriously consider further investigation into liability.

The council will move as quickly as possible to resolve the issue with the homeowners, he says.

The financial cost of the option to buy and demolish the homes is yet to be assessed.


13 Comments

The CEO under whose watch all this has occurred

Posted on 14-06-2018 12:44 | By Centurion

has not been re-employed. What sort of ratepayer-funded package does he walk away with? Will he still be available when the necessary investigation into TCC failures takes place?

Final reality...

Posted on 11-06-2018 10:53 | By morepork

...is that it will cost TCC (read "Ratepayers") a very large sum of money, whichever option they go for. It is right and proper that the first priority should be to these oppressed homeowners, but the second priority has to be to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The recommended independent investigation will give the people involved a chance to state their explanations and provide an opportunity for Council processes and procedures to be reviewed (and, hopefully, streamlined...). There needs to be much more transparency and accountability from TCC. Senior Management have to accept responsibility for the actions of their Officers and that should encourage them to monitor and manage more carefully. Although it hurts to see our money being wasted, at least it is better than some of the proposed projects it COULD have been wasted on.

@ davidt5

Posted on 09-06-2018 12:26 | By Crash test dummies

Correct, so when you have "rotten" every which way then the obvious answer is to put up the shutters, attack everyone else and get the ratepayers cheque book out and spurge funds all over the place to try and make it all go away. That means: - shut down Bella Vista, wind up the propaganda machine to spin-doctor all possible to divert attention from the facts, sack the whistle blowers (the honest ones) and of course promote the evil from within... all in the name of self preservation, self justified of course.

Other subdivisions

Posted on 07-06-2018 16:23 | By davidt5

What does this say about all of the other homes which have been signed off by this disfunctional part of the TCC? No doubt many other recently built homes in Tauranga have these same defects. After all the same building inspectors have been signing them off. Will our council be spending our hard earned cash on purchasing maybe hundreds of other new homes around our beautiful city? For how many years has this rotten situation been in effect? Parts of our council are clearly rotten to the core.

@ maildrop

Posted on 07-06-2018 15:05 | By Crash test dummies

The houses had code of compliance (most) so that means they were properly built right! Compliant with the building code etc. So how is that the building companies fault? Hint: tradesman were contracted in to build etc and they are not meantioned at all... hint: TCC have targeted Bella Vista for all teh wrong reasons, in the end result that means TCC have had an agenda and that includes a lot of spin-doctoring that you have sadly believed hook-line-sinker!

@ Scott Parker

Posted on 07-06-2018 15:01 | By Crash test dummies

You have very naively said "Of course the building just gets away with it......" Perhaps you should look a little further into these two very simple facts: - First, the building company (Bella Vista) did not "build" the homes contracted in tradesman did and all were approved to do that work all was inspected by TCC and signed off - result TCC is 100% at fault here, second: all was inspected by TCC and signed off - result TCC is 100% at fault here also. Did you overlook these clear and obvious issues. The real deal here is that TCC have taken out Bella Vista deliberately then ended up the beign desperate to shut it all down to hide all teh facts, evidence and so on. Sadly for the homeowners and bella Vista they are all caught up in all of this.

Scott Parker

Posted on 07-06-2018 12:26 | By maildrop

You reckon? Whose insurance exactly? The liquidated builder? Don’t think so. TCC? Do they have insurance that covers their own incompetence? It’s a legal mess and the only insurance company paying out is Ratepayers Inc.

Regarding Insurance

Posted on 07-06-2018 11:45 | By Maryfaith

From the umpteen legal documents and contracts I have read regarding this debacle (and a lot more that have never come to public attention!) TCC is not covered by Public Liability Insurance if it is a case where TCC has made poor/incorrect decisions!

Where

Posted on 07-06-2018 10:57 | By Merlin

Where is the accountability for the sign off for those people responsible.Compensation to home owners yes but??? Wait with interest.

Insurance

Posted on 07-06-2018 09:36 | By Scott Parker

While the outcome is bad for the home owners, city and TCC. Ultimately the bulk of the costs will be covered by insurance. So impact on rate payers won’t be that big. Of course the building just gets away with it......

And on it goes..

Posted on 07-06-2018 09:15 | By Marshal

I love to see how the dysfunctional parts of our society, that use the same format it would seem. to gather huge amounts of money using an almost compulsory system.. Never seem to know how to deal with humans in a compassionate manner when is comes to "heaven forbid" hand some of the money back.. Just pay the people what the jumped up councillors would demand in their situation.. I think Robin Hood was real..lol

Right decision

Posted on 07-06-2018 08:31 | By maildrop

Good for them. Bad for Ratepayers. Builder getting away with murder because the authorities cannot be bothered to do anything. Criminal.

Payout quickly

Posted on 07-06-2018 08:16 | By The Hobbit

This was the only sensible outcome for these poor residents. Let’s hope the Council pay these people without delay and that full value as if the properties were in full working order is paid with some compensation on top for the immense stress and pressure these people have been under. Stay strong guys and good luck with your future homes!!!

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