Couple held 'hostage' over moving from dream house for new $1.76 billion road.
Householders in the path of the $1.76 billion Puhoi-Wellsford "road of national significance" are dismayed at being told there is no Government money available for early property buyouts.
That is despite one couple's claim they were invited by a Transport Agency representative to consider immediate negotiations to sell their home, so they can move on with their lives.
The apparent back-track comes despite payments of $16.5 million already made to engineering and public relations consultants on the project, and is being taken by Labour transport spokesman Phil Twyford as a sign it is in trouble, a suggestion denied by the agency.
Bob and Jill Scott say that after they were told in April the dream home they built five years ago on 2ha of Moirs Hill south of Warkworth would have to be bulldozed, a property agent for the project invited them to start negotiations to sell it.
But they say that several days later, after telling the official they wanted to take up the offer, they received email advice that the agency had no money after all to buy the property with its panoramic views stretching far across the Hauraki Gulf. They would instead be left in limbo until it was ready to issue a "notice of requirement" for the highway route late next year.
"It means our lives have been put on hold - they're basically holding us hostage," Mrs Scott said yesterday.
Other property owners closer to Warkworth indicated similar frustration to the Herald, but without wanting to be identified. Mr Twyford accused the agency of "being miserable".
Agency northern regional director Stephen Town confirmed there was no cash available at this stage for early land purchases. He denied the first stage of the Puhoi-Wellsford project, to Warkworth, was in any doubt and said the agency would know before Christmas whether it could start some land purchases along the route.By Mathew Dearnaley Email Mathew