Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Dunedin floats $132m property buyback support plan

Dunedin City Council has begun early discussions with Treasury about Government support for a voluntary property acquisition scheme, the Council announced today.

Under the approach, no-one would be forced out of their homes, rather property could be purchased voluntarily on the open market, acquired gradually over decades, and then used to enable the South Dunedin climate change adaptation strategy currently under development with the community, said Mayor of Dunedin, Jules Radich (pictured).

“The adaptation strategy will outline what is needed in South Dunedin. Acquiring property will enable us to actually do it,” the Mayor said.

South Dunedin Future Programme Manager, Jonathan Rowe says the strategic property acquisition idea was sparked by conversations with the community.

“We’ve talked a lot to the community in recent years. We’ve heard that people want to stay in South Dunedin, they’re worried about their home and community being ‘red-stickered’ or ‘red-zoned’, and they want some certainty,” he says.

“This approach could help South Dunedin get ahead of the problem, be more resilient, provide certainty and reassurance to the community, and save ratepayers and taxpayers money in the long term.”

Importantly, property could be acquired early with adaptation plans in mind, but before final decisions needed to be made. In the short term, property could be retained, potentially rented to maintain housing supply and provide a revenue stream to offset some costs, Council said in a statement.

In due course, the property could be used for a range of adaptation projects – pumps or pipes, parks or wetlands, or new more resilient housing developments, it said.

“If we start acquiring property today, it will give us more options tomorrow, meaning we’ll be better placed to build a new pipe, expand a park, or move a house – whatever is required to make South Dunedin a safer and better place to be,” said Mayor Radich.

Early thinking on strategic property acquisition has been discussed with central government in recent months and has been developed into a draft indicative business case, which has been submitted to Treasury, he said.

The initial estimated costs are up to $132 million over an initial five-year period based on buying 65 properties a year.

“Our proposal is proactive and ambitious. This is not something the DCC could do alone and would require support from central government,” the Mayor said. 

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