2 Nov 2018

Bella Vista owners able to move on after gruelling saga

7:49 am on 2 November 2018

Former residents of the botched Bella Vista development are overjoyed they've reached the end of what has been a long and gruelling saga.

Former residents of the Bella Vista development comfort each other after announcing their rejection of the council's compensation offer.

Former residents of the Bella Vista development comfort each other after announcing their rejection of the council's initial compensation offer. Photo: RNZ/Eva Corlett

The Tauranga City Council had signed off on shoddy construction work at the development but later deemed the homes too dangerous to live in.

In July, the 21 homeowners rejected an offer from council to buy back the properties at the price paid for them, saying it would lock them out of buying in the current market.

The families threatened to sue but before the court hearings were due to begin, the parties agreed to mediation.

On Wednesday, the council and the home owners reached a settlement.

In a statement, the council said it has agreed to take ownership of the properties.

The terms of the agreement are completely confidential but homeowners told RNZ they walked away with a smile on their face.

Former homeowner Andre Stewart said the settlement was a huge relief for the family and that they were now able to stay living in the area.

"Finally, we can think about our futures, our children, our family, our health, which are only going to benefit now that we are able to make those next steps."

Mr Stewart said the settlement has also restored his trust in the council and its systems.

Another former homeowner Lee Konowe said it was an enormous relief.

"It's been a long process," he said.

Both he and his wife have experienced significant health concerns recently and wanted this issue "tidied up".

"Last night was a very good night's sleep," he said.

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A Bella Vista house that was under construction. Photo: RNZ / Sophia Duckor-Jones

Mr Konowe harboured no resentment for the council but said this saga was a cautionary tale.

"I think it is important that the council play the role that it should, which is to watch for the best interests of the ratepayers," Mr Konowe said.

"They should make sure homes are built as well as can be and that the process is the one that satisfies everybody."

So far the council has spent more than $2 million investigating the issue but the cost of the settlement is confidential.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless is also relieved at the outcome.

He said it was too early to say what the next step was for the mothballed development.

But in the meantime, the council has some soul searching to do.

"It sounds trite but you do learn from things... I'm just glad we've been able to sort things out."

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is reviewing the council's building control unit to identify how and why the subdivision failed.

The council is also conducting an internal employment investigation to discover what happened.

It is also suing Bella Vista Homes and its former director Danny Cancian.

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