A geotechnical engineer has revealed in court recommendations to make properties in the failed Bella Vista Homes development meet the Building Code safe were either ignored or slow to be completed.

Matthew Packard gave evidence today in the judge-alone trial of five parties involved in the failed Bella Vista Homes development in The Lakes.

Bella Vista Homes Limited, The Engineer Limited, their respective directors Danny Cancian and Bruce Cameron, and bricklayer Darrel Joseph are defending a raft of charges following the evacuation of 21 houses in various stages of completion in a sub-division in March 2018.

The charges were brought by the Tauranga City Council and relate to the defendants allegedly carrying out building works which were not in accordance with the Building Act, in particular a building consent.

The now empty site where Bella Vista Homes were built at The Lakes. Photo / File
The now empty site where Bella Vista Homes were built at The Lakes. Photo / File

Packard told the court he had become involved through his role as a chartered professional engineer with CMW Geosciences after the council issued a stop-work notice, pending consultation with a geotechnical expert to assess lot sites at Aneta Way and Lakes Boulevard.

Packard told the court of site meetings known as "walkovers" and concerns he had.

"Building plans did not match up with cross builds, resulting in uncertain requirements for future works.

"In my view, at the Bella Vista site there were a number of geotechnical issues, sloping stability associated with steep cuts and an apparent lack of appropriate sediment and stormwater controls.

"I was unsurprised the council had issued a stop-work [notice]."

Homes in the area were in various stages of construction, he said.

After Packard's first walkover on September 21, 2016, Packard said he issued four recommendations to Bella Vista including tidying up cut faces, immediate installation of a timber pole wall to 3 Aneta Way, setting up sediment and silt control measures and to divert overland water flow.

Heavy and prolonged rain had already resulted in erosion and exposure of council infrastructure, the court heard.


"It appeared the silt control was ... overwhelmed by weather conditions," Packard said.

Some Bella Vista homes were removed from the site following the company's demise. Photo / File
Some Bella Vista homes were removed from the site following the company's demise. Photo / File

When Packard returned for follow-up walkovers, he found only some of his recommendations had been made, such as silt fences.

"In my view, Bella Vista did not appear too sufficient to install and manage silt control devices."

Prosecution counsel Richard Marchart put to Packard someone had told the council Packard had in fact signed off a visit to Bella Vista, to which Packard said, "absolutely not".

In March 2017, Bella Vista ended its relationship with CMW and continued with another firm which was already working on other Bella Vista sites.

"CMW was not unhappy that Bella Vista terminated our [agreement]. Bella Vista was a difficult client due to being slow to respond to our recommendations or recommendations weren't followed, in particular making cuts at the rear of platforms," Packard said.


"There were a number of payments we had to chase which was frustrating."

Already through this trial, witnesses brought forward by the prosecution have told of not being paid, discount deals for Bella Vista sections and of an unorganised and chaotic work environment plagued by delays.

Bella Vista Homes went into liquidation in November 2017.

Defence counsel is yet to cross-examine Packard.

The trial continues.