Council targets unkempt sections

Invercargill City Council has launched a new initiative to get dozens of unkempt residential sections in the city cleaned up.

The council's environmental health manager John Youngson said the council was enacting its bylaw to get overgrown and rubbish-filled sections without houses on them tidied up.

The council also planned to put a focus on the derelict houses in the city, he said.

More than 40 empty and unkempt sections in south Invercargill had already been identified as needing clean-up work and the rest of the city's properties were being checked in coming weeks.

"We are identifying more every day," Mr Youngson said.

The council had begun sending letters to the owners of the untidy sections giving them a fortnight to respond. If the clean-up work was not done within a further 28 days the council would do it and bill the owners, Mr Youngson said.

He expected the first of the sections to be cleaned up in November, with the work ongoing.

Once that task was completed the council would work with property owners to get untidy sections with vacant houses on them cleaned up, funds permitting.

"If the houses on those sections are dilapidated we will assess what to do with them, which could be a repair notice or another avenue," Mr Youngson said.

The council also planned to look into the issue of derelict houses which people lived in, he said.

If those houses needed repair work the council was likely to refer the owners to appropriate agencies to get help.

"But if they tell us to bugger off we will use the medical officer of health to go in and make an assessment . . . if a property is considered a nuisance under the health act we can force people to clean them up. We will certainly be looking at that."

The council had $75,000 in its budget for property clean-ups and derelict house demolition this year, with Mr Youngson saying the work may need to be prioritised as the money wouldn't last forever.

It would last longer if property owners did their own section clean-up work, he said.

The community group charged with rejuvenating south Invercargill, South Alive, which receives council funding, had kicked the initiatives off by identifying some untidy sections, with the council now taking it further, Mr Youngson said.

South Alive co-ordinator Janette Malcolm said the issue of vacant and overgrown sections and derelict houses had been identified by south Invercargill residents as key areas of concern when South Alive was being formed.

"It's fantastic the council is putting resources towards this."

The Southland Times