This drone image taken last week shows the neighborhood and the scale of the slip beneath Ben Wilson’s place in Beach Haven. Photo / Jason Dorday
The owner of a Beach Haven home, red-stickered by Auckland Council as being unfit to occupy after substantial cliff damage, has complained about the length of time taken to resolve matters.
Ben Wilson, who owns a $2 million-plus Brigantine Dr residential property, expressed frustration about the system, saying there had been no thorough investigation by any parties including the council or insurers.
“All the waiting and unknowns are unhelpful with moving forward,” he said of his attempts to get a resolution to his situation with the home, which sits precariously above the damaged cliffs.
In August, the Herald reported how the Government and council struck a $1 billion-plus deal to share the cost of the most severely damaged, category three properties via buyouts.
Wilson said he filed an application with the council on September 9, seeking categorization and resolution of his storm-affected property.
But nothing had been resolved, even though the council’s own website estimates this process takes six weeks.
“I followed up after more than seven weeks on October 27,” he said.
Yet again, nothing happened.
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He was told his property was “number 89th in the queue. It’s now more than 10 weeks and we haven’t heard anything since. A physical site meeting has not taken place,” Wilson complained.
“There has not been a thorough structural engineering investigation by any party,” he said, citing Toka Tū Aka EQC, the council and its insurer.
Only limited structural observations had been noted by a consultant on behalf of the insurer, Wilson said.
“While awaiting the categorization process, I did hear from council compliance via email who requested ‘to confirm my intentions with the property’. Without all the information, including the applied for categorization, this appears poorly timed,” he said.
Asked about Wilson’s situation, the Tāmaki Makaurau Recovery Office said unfortunately, thousands of Aucklanders were significantly affected by the floods.
“So we must follow consistent and equitable processes to assess and categorize each property. We are doing our best to carry out property assessments as fast as we can.
“But with more than 2100 properties on our list, this will take some time as we undertake property-level risk-based assessments. We are prioritising properties where there is urgent need, including those with displaced whānau.
“In the meantime, we will continue to support affected residents through this period and encourage homeowners to reach out to our navigators who can walk them through the process and connect them with support,” the office said.
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The Herald reported last week how the council said there is no danger to other properties due to the slip.
“There would only be a potential danger to the environment if the property were to totally fail, however, we are not aware of any further movement currently,” a statement from the compliance team said.
Asked if the cliff and clay were polluting the water, compliance said: “No, the area below is a natural cliff face as with most of the surrounding area.”
The January floods weren’t the first time damage occurred beneath Wilson’s home.
Last year, Kerri Fergusson, the council’s compliance response and investigation manager, said movement beneath the house was not the owner’s fault.
“After completing the investigation into the cause of the slip, it was determined that there were no breaches committed by the property owners at Brigantine Drive. Therefore, no enforcement action will be taken. The slip was deemed to be a natural occurrence following periods of unsettled weather and severe rain, and there is no further practical action that can be taken. A letter has been sent to the property owners urging them to be mindful of future possible risks, should the slip regress further,” she said last November.
The Herald reported on the situation at the property overlooking Charcoal Bay where on July 15 last year, a massive slip occurred on the cliff that Paul Carter, a senior geotechnical engineer, attributed partly to rainfall.
Anne Gibson has been the Herald‘s property editor for 23 years, has won many awards, written books and covered property extensively here and overseas.