Port Hills homes to be dozed

OFF THE LIST: Bob Boland’s  Mt Pleasant property will not need to be abandoned after being removed from the city council’s most at-risk class of Port Hills mass land movement.
OFF THE LIST: Bob Boland’s Mt Pleasant property will not need to be abandoned after being removed from the city council’s most at-risk class of Port Hills mass land movement.

Sixteen homes on the Port Hills are to be bulldozed because they are dangerous with a high risk of being destroyed in a landslide.

The move, announced yesterday, will save 21 houses close by but comes as a bitter blow to home owners.

The properties along Quarry Rd, Maffeys Rd, Defender Lane, Cliff St and Deans Head were all green-zoned by the Government but the city council has now decided they are too dangerous to live in and must go.

The homes will be bought under the Public Works Act so they can be bulldozed and remedial work done to protect the roads and 21 at-risk properties that lie below them.

"We are very mindful of the need to protect property and life but also to protect infrastructure," council chief planning officer Mike Theelen said yesterday, as he released the final in a series of GNS Science reports on mass movement in the Port Hills.

The reports, which are the result of months of detailed ground investigations and surface movement monitoring, identified 126 properties where there was intolerable life risk from landslides.

Eighty-nine have already been red-zoned because of the risk of rockfall or cliff collapse, but 37 are green-zoned. Theelen said the plan was to acquire 16 of those properties through negotiation. If that failed, they would be acquired compulsorily.

"This is not a voluntary offer. If we have to go through the compulsory route we will, but it is certainly not our desire to do so," he said.

If compulsory acquisition was required, it would likely be at the 2007 rateable value. Acquiring the properties and remediation work is expected to cost around $17 million, split equally between the Crown and the council.

Theelen said four of the 16 properties earmarked for acquisition were occupied.

"For those people who are residing in their properties we've been at pains to point out that while the risk they have is intolerable, there is not an imminent risk to them and they are able to remain in their properties at present.

"We are monitoring known mass movement areas, and if there is a change in the behaviour of the slope and increased risk to people's safety, we will act swiftly. This may mean people may need to leave their property at short notice."

Maffeys Rd resident Robert Boland, 91, was yesterday relieved to find he was not one of the affected property owners. His land was originally considered to be in one of the worst-affected areas.

Many homeowners who had left the area planned to return and he expected those affected by the acquisition to take the news hard.

After a long period in limbo, it was "reassuring" to know he and wife Patricia, 75, would not need to move from their home of 42 years, which boasts views over the estuary.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said she appreciated the decision would significantly affect people's lives.

"While this news is very welcome for some, it is upsetting for others and we will be supporting all these Port Hills residents in the coming months," she said.

Port Hills MP Ruth Dyson said she was pleased the council had opted to remediate properties where it could

Some affected homeowners she had spoken to were glad to have answers, while others were upset at having to leave.

The offer at 2007 rateable value was "fair" based on the previous red-zone buyouts, she said.

The Press