5 Sep 2023

Dunedin council plans to buy up properties in flood-prone south

10:01 am on 5 September 2023

A car powers through the floodwaters in south Dunedin in 2015. Photo:

The mayor of Dunedin says the council is making plans to buy properties in the flood-prone south of the city as part of its climate adaptation strategy.

The council has started talks with Treasury about government support for the scheme.

The South Dunedin basin, home to 13,000 people, was swamped by floodwaters in 2015 and was at risk from climate change and rising groundwater.

Mayor Jules Radich said the climate strategy was being developed, and buying property would allow the council to put it into practice.

He said no one would be forced out of their homes - properties would instead be bought voluntarily on the open market and acquired gradually over decades.

The properties could be used for a range of adaptation projects such as pumps, pipes and wetlands, or new, more resilient housing.

Radich said the initial estimated costs were up to $132 million over a five-year period, based on buying 65 properties a year.

"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."

South Dunedin Future programme manager Jonathan Rowe said the idea of buying the properties 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.

"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."

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