Family upset by DCC decision to demolish house

The Dunedin City Council is to demolish a house it owns to make way for flood protection work on a Taieri property it bought three years ago for $1.7 million.

The house on Dukes Rd North will be demolished so the city council and the Otago Regional Council Council can carry out flood protection work on the 15ha property.

The council plans to eventually re-zone the land and sell it for grazing.

The family who have lived at property for the past three years say they have been left blindsided by the decision to demolish.

Rob de Groot-Green has lived at the property with his wife and four children for the past three years. They were given a 90-day notice to vacate the property last month.

Mr de Groot-Green said he understood the council was legally able to evict his family but he thought it was morally wrong.

"We didn’t have any idea until our property manager came around to do the annual inspection which turned out to be a discussion about tearing down the house."

The family had not yet found new rental accommodation, he said.

Council property manager David Bainbridge said the house needed to be vacated because constant flooding meant it was no longer suitable for people to live in.

Once the house was demolished and the flood protection work completed the council planned to rezone the land as rural and then sell it for grazing, Mr Bainbridge said.

The council was unable to provide any alternative housing for the family but it had advised them of other options, he said.

The property was bought by the council in 2015, after the previous owners, William and Fiona Smeaton, faced a rates increase of more than $10,000 a year after the land was rezoned from rural to industrial in 2004.

Six neighbouring properties were also bought by the council following the rezoning and were eventually sold for a $1.07 million loss.

Mr Bainbridge said it was always intended the propertywould be included in flood protection work.

The aim of the work was to protect the neighbouring area and Dukes Rd from flooding in heavy rain. 

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