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Council Purchases Brook Street Properties Affected By Slips From Public Land

Nelson City Council has purchased 10 properties in the Brook Street area that were at risk from slips originating from public land following the severe rainfall in August 2022, and further significant rainfall in May 2023.

Council had originally planned to remediate three slips from public land in the area affecting these private properties as part of the $17.3 million slip repair package approved in May 2023.

This plan had to change following further rainfall and geotechnical investigations that meant the proposed fixes were no longer fit for purpose and the likelihood of these slips reactivating in a future major weather event had increased.

Council is not able to provide the exact amount for each sale for reasons of privacy, but the cost to purchase all properties was approximately $6.7m.

As there was no reasonable or cost-effective way for Council to remediate these slips to an acceptable level, purchasing the affected properties using the slip repair package fund had a lower net cost and risk than any other option. 

Council offered to buy the properties from affected homeowners in November last year.

Nelson Mayor Nick Smith says negotiating with multiple private parties required a lot of sensitivity and empathy from Council staff.

“This was a very difficult situation where Council had received professional geotechnical advice that these homes may be impacted by future major weather events and that the cost of stabilising the landslides from Council land exceeded the properties’ values. This was even more of a shock in that many of these properties were not directly damaged during the August 2022 storm.

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“I am hugely relieved that we have been able to amicably resolve this awful predicament within six months on all 10 properties without any protracted legal disputes. I had expected it to take years, given my experience of red zoning in other areas of New Zealand. I am very proud of the Council team’s professionalism and the goodwill of the homeowners in getting this matter resolved so quickly. It is good for the property owners, Council and the community that we have certainty, and that the affected families are able to move on.”

All dwellings on the site are being offered for sale for relocation, by tender. This will close by the end of April. Any unsold structures will then be packaged for tender for deconstruction.

Once that process has been completed, the land will be cleared of any remaining buildings. A bund with stormwater controls will be built at the bottom of the properties to protect Council services, Brook Street and properties across the street.

Finally, the land will be planted out so it can revert to a natural state, possibly being vested as a part of the Tantragee Reserve.

“Council has an obligation towards homeowners whose property has been affected by slips from public land, but we need to stress that this is a very specific response to a specific situation. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” says Mayor Nick, “and with severe weather like this forecast to become more frequent, we need a national conversation about how recovery from events like these is paid for.”

The Brook Street purchases were progressed separately to the voluntary property buy-out proposal being consulted on in the 2024-2034 draft Long Term Plan, due to the level of risk from public land to the property owners.

The Long Term Plan consultation asks whether Council should accept a package of Government support worth $12.3m that includes $6m to cover up to 50% of the purchase price of up to 14 properties affected by slips during the August 2022 weather event. It also asks for feedback on the eligibility buy-out principles for purchasing those properties. If this is accepted, some of this funding may go toward offsetting Council’s costs in purchasing the Brook St addresses.

“The next challenge for Council with the recovery work will be negotiating solutions for private properties where the risk is from other private land. This process is subject to Council decisions on the Long Term Plan, a draft of which is now out for consultation,” Mayor Nick says.

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