An independent report into Tauranga City Council's role in the failed Bella Vista development has found the council acted correctly in some areas and failed in others.

The report, undertaken by former High Court judge Paul Heath QC, found that the council dealt adequately with resource consent applications.

But it failed in other areas including its monitoring and enforcement functions under the Resource Management Act in relation to geotechnical aspects of the intended construction works.

Read more: Tauranga City Council to buy Bella Vista homes
Bella Vista saga: Class action lawsuit filed against Tauranga City Council
Judgment Day' looming for Bella Vista homeowners in Tauranga
$1.5m Bella Vista payment under investigation

Advertisement

The report also found:

•The council performed building consent functions adequately for those issued before December 23, 2016, but failed to make appropriate inquiries in respect of those granted on or after that date.

• The council did not perform its Building Act inspection functions adequately, in respect of both geotechnical and structural considerations.

• The council ought not to have issued code compliance certificates for 297 and 311 Lakes Boulevard, and 2 and 4 Aneta Way.

•It was appropriate for the council, on April 16, to declare all buildings in the Bella Vista subdivision either 'dangerous' or 'affected' on the basis of the professional advice it received.


Heath said there was need for an inquiry or investigation into "why" the council failed to perform adequately relevant regulatory functions.

He said it was important to investigate what lessons could be learned from the failures to minimise the risk of something like this happening again.

"I cannot emphasise enough that my findings that the council did not perform its resource consent and Building Act regulatory functions adequately do not mean that the council is necessarily legally liable to homeowners who have suffered loss."

Heath presented the report to the council this afternoon via video link from Singapore and encouraged the council to move quickly to find a resolution for homeowners.

"They [the homeowners] are entirely innocent. They bought properties in good faith, and had an expectation that the dwellings to be erected on them would be built to the standards required by the Building Code and, immediately upon completion, be habitable."

Council chief executive Garry Poole said the council acknowledged the report and would assess the recommendations.

"The report highlights areas where Mr Heath says we should have done better.

"We acknowledge the findings of Mr Heath QC. He has had an opportunity to look thoroughly at what council did or did not do.

"He has encouraged council to look at why, and this is something we will go away and consider further."

The council today voted to buy the 21 affected properties and enter negotiations with homeowners.

A major issue for the development was the lack of retaining walls, which Heath said should have been considered further by the council.

He said there was confusion around the sequencing of work, and how the council could have approached this issue.

Heath said in respect of the dangerous and/or affected notices, the council's actions were "appropriate" in a situation "in which it had received advice that those entering the buildings could be at risk of injury or death."