South Dunedin land acquisition plan refloated

A proposed land acquisition scheme to get ahead of climate change challenges in South Dunedin has been brought to the attention of the new government.

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich wrote to Minister for Regional Development Shane Jones, congratulating him on his appointment.

The mayor said the Dunedin City Council was excited to see what he called the re-establishment of the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

He then referred to a voluntary strategic property acquisition scheme pitched to the Treasury last year.

It is proposed properties could be used for a range of adaptation projects — pumps or pipes, parks or wetlands, or resilient housing developments.

"The Dunedin City Council currently has a business case in front of Treasury officials which looks to partner with central government on a plan for South Dunedin", Mr Radich said.

He suggested it would be an ideal candidate for the infrastructure fund.

"We are really interested in achieving positive outcomes for the city and we think this would be a great start."

A council spokesman said yesterday there had not yet been a response from the minister.

Both the city council and Otago Regional Council last week approved a long-list for public feedback about how South Dunedin might adapt to climate change.

Possible approaches include partial residential retreat, developing floodable infrastructure, waterproofing the ground floor of buildings and restricting development in some areas.

The South Dunedin basin is home to more than 13,000 people, 1500 businesses and a range of critical city infrastructure, but is considered to be increasingly vulnerable to storms and sea-level rise.

It is intended an adaptation plan will operate from 2026.

"Lifting the social and economic resilience of Dunedin in the face of climate change will be critical to our future," Mr Radich said last week.

"We are running a nation-leading process and it is my expectation this will attract significant government support to make South Dunedin both safer and better for all."

Otago Regional Council chairwoman Gretchen Robertson said release of the long-list was a significant step.

During their discussions, councillors emphasised the need for national support for the adaptation plan being developed.