Abandoned land goes on market

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Abandon hope, all ye who welch on your rates, at least in the Ruapehu district.

Taranaki's easterly neighbour has put more than 30 plots of abandoned land on the market in a bid to recoup unpaid rates bills and encourage new people to move into the area.

The sections are scattered throughout the sparsely-populated district in Taumarunui, Ohura, National Park, Matiere, Piriaka and Manunui and will be sold by tender.

Ruapehu District Council spokesman Paul Wheatcroft said the sale of the land was the tail end of a lengthy rates collection process.

"We'd like people to buy the sections and build houses on them. That's the ideal scenario.

"People who are ready to become part of the community and start a business, or something like that."


Mr Wheatcroft said while there were opportunities for people to pick up bargains, he stressed buyers would "get what they paid for".

And what they pay for may be flood-prone land, according to Taumarunui real estate salesman Bill Nicholas.

"From what I understand, most of the properties in Ohura are in a flood zone, so I don't know if you would get a permit to build on them," he said.

Ohura was previously best-known for being the site of a medium security prison which closed in 2005.

Three other properties in Taumarunui also fared badly.

A Campbell St section built up with sawdust from the timber mill subsided significantly, and New Rd, on which there are two sections for sale, had long been known as "the worst street in Taumarunui".

"The thing is that it is cheaper to buy a house here than it is to build a house on a section you have bought.

"So unless you have a house to move on to a section, it's going to cost you a lot, and your final property value will be less than what you spent to get it," Mr Nicholas said.

Abandoned land is largely a non-issue in Taranaki, except in the South Taranaki town of Patea.

South Taranaki District Council team leader, revenue, Kelli Corrigan said most of the properties that qualified as abandoned land were quarter-acre sections.

She said the original purchase price was now a lot less than the annual rates bill, and this motivated people to walk away from the land.

New Plymouth District Council manager of financial services, David Ogier, said he could recall only three sections sold as abandoned land in the last 20 years.

He put this down to the relative wealth of the New Plymouth District compared with Ruapehu.


Taranaki Daily News