Auckland Council’s Governing Body yesterday approved in principle a more than $2 billion recovery package to improve Auckland’s storm resilience and co-fund buyouts for properties that are most vulnerable to extreme weather in the future.
Auckland Council’s Group Recovery Manager, Mat Tucker, says that reaching this agreement with central government is a major milestone for recovery in Tāmaki Makaurau.
“Having this financial commitment from the Government means we are closer to giving people certainty about the future of their homes and can get on with the work needed to build more resilient communities.
“Because of the major financial commitment needed from Auckland Council, the Governing Body’s in-principle approval to the cost-share arrangement with the Crown requires consultation with Auckland ratepayers.
“For two weeks from mid-September, we will be seeking Aucklanders’ views on the government’s financial support package. The short timeframe for consultation balances the need to give everyone an opportunity to have their say with the need to provide certainty as soon as possible for displaced families. We recognise that many people are in very difficult financial situations and are anxiously awaiting answers.”
The package provides $774 million for Category 3 property buyouts, with a 50/50 cost share between Auckland Council and central government.
“We are now closer to being able to offer buyouts to people whose homes are assigned Category 3. These are situations where there’s an unacceptable risk to life from future flooding or landslides.
“There are still complex details to be worked through, namely how we’re going to fairly calculate the value of homes being purchased. What we do know now is that any buyout offer will be less any insurance payout the owner might have received, so we’ll be working closely with the insurance industry to make this as straightforward as possible for property owners.
“We know people will have many questions on the technical and legal implications of the buyout programme, and we are working to be able to provide more details in the coming weeks.”
Property site visits as part of the categorisation process are ongoing. These on-site assessments are critical to determine whether a home has a high or low risk from future flooding or landslides, and whether there is a practical solution available to reduce the risk. Where there are no practical solutions, homes will be placed in Category 3. Read more in the last property categorisation update here.
Another major milestone was reached yesterday with the removal of 45 placards at properties that were impacted during the devastating landslides earlier this year.
Mat Tucker says that the geotechnical assessment programme to fully understand the risk to life from large-scale slope instability in the area is now substantially complete and a draft copy of the report will be shared with affected property owners in Muriwai on Monday.
“The draft results have shown that 45 properties in Muriwai can safely have their yellow or red placard downgraded because they are at low future risk, and we expect that about 10 more will follow soon. This means that repair work can take place if needed, and families can return home. This will be an emotional time for those families and is an incredibly significant milestone in the community’s recovery.”
The remaining properties within the geotechnical study areas will have an initial category provided next week.
“Some of the properties in Muriwai will be clearly in Category 3 and they will be eligible for a voluntary buyout when the programme is confirmed. Others properties will be considered initially Category 2 in the government categorisation which means they are high risk but need further investigation to understand if there are any practical engineering solutions that can make the property safe to live in. If there are no practical options, these homes will also be Category 3.” Read more about the property categories.
Mr Tucker says this is a continuation of placard downgrading work that has happened over the last few months.
“Where homes have been repaired, or new information has become available to show there is no risk to life at the property, we have removed placards. During the course of the geotechnical study, our engineering partner GHD has identified areas where groups of homes were able to have placards removed.
“Getting people back into their homes is one of the most important roles of the Recovery Office, and we’re pleased to make further progress on this.”