News and Publications

Property News: 3 September 2018

Dead in the water

The Waimea dam project has been sunk.

Tasman district councillors yesterday voted 8-6 against a draft resolution to proceed with the $102 million project and increase the contribution from ratepayers.

Votes against the motion from Golden Bay Ward councillor Paul Sangster and Motueka Ward councillor Paul Hawkes were key. Sangster had previously supported resolutions around the project, while Hawkes’ votes had been mixed.

The watershed vote came after it was revealed in July that updated prices had added about $26m to an estimated $75.9m in capital costs required to complete the project, a funding gap that council staff said could be reduced to $23m, because $3m to $3.5m in savings could be made ‘‘in some aspects of the design’’.

Maling said the council would be throwing away millions of dollars in outside funding if it did not proceed with the project.

‘‘We’ve got one chance to secure this funding.’’

Kempthorne said that under a no-dam scenario, there would be a ‘‘critical water shortage’’, the consequences of which were dire.

‘‘Doing nothing is not an option,’’ he said. ‘‘The Plan Bs are much more expensive.’’

After the vote, Kempthorne said the decision signalled a ‘‘significant change’’ to the direction the council had set through its Long Term Plan, and a formal public consultation process would be needed to change the plan.

Urgent work on an alternative to the dam to secure the urban water supply would need to begin immediately, he said. In the meantime, the ‘‘sleeper’’ no-dam rules in the Tasman Resource Management Plan would be activated, and would require ‘‘significant water take cuts’’ by both urban and rural water users on and around the Waimea Plains during extended dry weather until another solution was developed.

(The Nelson Mail, Wednesday 29 August 2018)

Save trees, says resident

A Nelson resident is calling for a second opinion on historic plane trees in Nile St East that are earmarked to be cut down.

Diane Sowman said the Nelson City Council had advised her that it would be felling five cutleaf plane trees in the street.

Sowman said she was told in a letter from the council that an arborist had assessed the condition of the trees and had reported structural defects, with removal as the only solution. The council would replace them where possible with non-fruiting ginkgo biloba trees.

The tall cut-leaf plane trees are known for the intensity of their autumn foliage colour.

The five trees to be removed are in front of house numbers 169, 173, 177, 179 and 208.

The council’s group manager community services, Roger Ball, said ginkgo trees were chosen as replacements because they had already been planted in gaps between the plane trees.

(The Nelson Mail, Wednesday 25 August 2018)

Pressure on NCC projects

The troubled Greenmeadows centre is putting the delivery of other Nelson City Council projects at risk.

This risk is one of four risks identified in the most recent update on the project, delivered to council’s community services committee yesterday.

Council CEO Pat Dougherty said the extra resources diverted towards completing the project had put the council ‘‘under pressure’’.

‘‘There’s a lot of senior leadership time involved, we have one of our most experienced project managers fulltime on-site, and we have a projects team that it short of resources at the moment,’’ he said. ‘‘This project represents a risk for this year.’’

Dougherty said he was looking at ways to address that risk, and more detail would be discussed with the chief executive employment committee, ‘‘probably next week’’.

He said the change in reporting structure he had instigated would ensure councillors would have a ‘‘far closer look’’ at major projects like Greenmeadows in future.

The committee was also updated on the current status of Greenmeadows, including the appointment of a clerk of works to the site. The council employee is acting as a fulltime on-site project manager.

Louverdis said that with the focus on quality, a concrete completion date for Greenmeadows couldn’t be given, but it would ‘‘hopefully’’ be December.

The other risks in the report were a lack of resources, which main contractor Watts and Hughes had addressed and which was being monitored by the clerk of works; quality control, which was being addressed via a ‘‘process . . . to ensure all remedial work is been [sic] delivered to the required standards’’; and reputation risk to the council.

(The Nelson Mail, Friday 31 August 2018)

Rain causes further damage to Dun trail

Last week’s heavy rain has put remediation work on the Dun Mountain Trail behind schedule, following fresh damage to the fence and walking trail.

Nelson City Council communications manager Paul Shattock confirmed that a new slip had occurred on the Four Corners to Third House section of the trail.

A short section of the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary’s 14.4km pest-proof fence was also damaged by the slip. While the fence was fixed by volunteers last Tuesday, there was a large amount of remaining debris still covering the trail which needed to be cleared, Shattock said.

Contractors and geotechnical engineers were assessing the damage, which would help to ascertain a timeframe for reopening the section.

This latest slip has also forced a change to the course for this weekend’s Dun Run race.

The Four Corners to Third House section of trail was planned to temporarily reopen for the September 1 event, which would have allowed runners access to the classic trail route. However, with the route deemed impassable, a detour is now in place between Junction Saddle and Four Corners, by way of Black Diamond Track and Fringed Hill.

(The Nelson Mail, Friday 31 August 2018)

Timber firm can't pay Arsenic fine

A Nelson timber company prosecuted for emissions of arsenic has gone into liquidation, meaning it could not pay a $270,000 fine.

Hunter Laminates 2014 Ltd was sentenced in the Nelson District Court last week for illegally discharging toxic chemicals into the air from its Richmond plant.

The court heard the company had gone into liquidation in April this year, and entered a guilty plea to the charge on June 28. Documents showed it owed $778,000 to creditors, with no assets.

The Tasman District Council, which took the prosecution, said the judge found the offending to be one of the most serious cases he had dealt with and indicated a fine of $270,000 would have been imposed if the company had any ability to pay. The council said that would have been one of the highest fines imposed under the Resource Management Act.

The council prosecuted Hunter Laminates over the illegal burning of timber waste between 2014 and 2016 that had been treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA), widely used as a timber preservative.

(The Nelson Mail on Stuff, 30 August 2018)

Tower ready for first take-off

Nelson Airport Tower

Nelson Airport's new $6 million air control tower may also represent the last of its type.

Following a dawn blessing at the site with local iwi, Airways board members joined airport staff, Nelson MP Nick Smith and regional mayors Richard Kempthorne and Rachel Reese for Thursday's official opening.

Opening just a few days after Wellington's distinctive leaning structure, the $6 million Nelson tower will likely be the last bricks and mortar tower to open in New Zealand.

Airways is looking to introduce digital tower technology, starting with Invercargill in 2020 and a contingency digital tower for Auckland around the same time. Digital towers allows controllers to direct air traffic from a remote location.

Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner said the new building sent "a real message" about the development of the Nelson region, as well as the future of air traffic control.

"We're very much becoming a data-rich, software dependent business with the right level of expertise still in the tower and you'll still see operations like this in the tower for some time to come because we are risk-averse so you don't change things too quickly.

The tower was funded by Airways and built by local firm Gibbons Construction, as part of Nelson Airport's $32 million redevelopment project, which included a new terminal and infrastructure upgrades.

The six-level, 22-metre high tower has an eye level of 17.3 metres – almost double the height of the previous tower. Four staff will man the high-windowed cab in two shifts between 5.45am and 10pm.

They will manage around 125 take-offs and landings from the airport each day and 46,000 flight movements annually.

(The Nelson Mail on Stuff, 30 August 2018)

More high-risk mortgage lending

First-time home buyers may be on the comeback trail, according to the Reserve Bank’s latest mortgage figures.

First-home buyers borrowed $910 million during July out of a total of $5.5 billion, one of their strongest showings in five years.

Other borrowers were more established owner-occupiers, property investors and businesses.

More tellingly, high-risk mortgages – loans with less than 20 per cent equity – made up 8.7 per cent of all new lending, the highest level since October 2013, when the Reserve Bank brought in loan to value ratios (LVRs) to cool the property market.

Generally would-be home buyers must have a deposit of at least 20 per cent, but banks can exercise a limited amount of discretion to those with lower equity.

Conditions eased slightly for would-be property owners in January. The cap on lending to those with LVRs of more than 80 per cent was raised from 10 per cent of banks’ loan books, to 15 per cent.

And restrictions on investors were also relaxed a little, allowing banks to do 5 per cent of their lending to property investors with a less than 35 per cent deposit. Previously the deposit had to be 40 per cent.

First-home buyers borrowed $910 million during July.

(The Nelson Mail, Friday 31 August 2018)

Waimea dam refloat possible - Mayor

The Waimea dam project may be refloated with a revamped funding model that lowers the estimated cost for ratepayers.

Tasman district councillors look likely to be asked at an extraordinary full council meeting on Thursday to change the ‘‘no’’ vote they made on Tuesday and instead agree to proceed with the dam project.

However, the issue is scheduled to be discussed behind closed doors, although the high public interest is recognised, with time allowed in the public forum section of the meeting for people to speak for or against the project.

‘‘We’ve got new information,’’ Kempthorne said. ‘‘It’s simply our responsibility to look at it and make the decision for the best interests of our district, region and the country.’’ He said he had been working with the council’s executive team on the matter.

WIL chairman Murray King confirmed that WIL was ‘‘trying to arrange additional funding’’.

‘‘We think we’ve got a way we can do it,’’ he said. ‘‘This thing is so important, we can’t walk away from it now.’’

King said he could not reveal much about the additional funding because some of it was bound by confidentiality ‘‘and some is still being worked through’’.

However, he did confirm the involvement of a ‘‘reputable New Zealand-based investor’’.

(The Nelson Mail, Saturday 1 September 2018)

Fonterra cuts its milk price forecast

Fonterra has cut its forecast farmgate milk price from $7 per kilogram of milksolids to $6.75 per kgMS the year to September 2019.

The reduction would mean a $39,000 lower income for an average farmer than might have been expected if the price had stayed at the higher figure.

Fonterra chairman John Monaghan said the change was in response to stronger milk supply signals coming from some of the world’s key dairy producing regions.

The move was not unexpected, with many analysts predicting a fall. The $7 price has been under threat after a 9 per cent fall in global dairy auction (GDT) prices in recent months.

The price of $6.75 was still high historically, and milk supply in the northern hemisphere might fall away later this year because of drought and higher grain prices.

Fonterra interim chief executive Miles Hurrell said ‘‘It’s still very early in the season and a lot can change over the coming months.

‘‘A drop in the new season milk price forecast will be frustrating to our farmers, but it’s important we give them the facts so they can make informed decisions in their farming businesses,’’

(The Nelson Mail, Saturday 1 September 2018)

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