A Whangarei Town Basin property worth more than $400,000 has been empty for two years while the Whangarei District Council decides what to do with the land and old villa on the site.

The council bought the property at 3 Ewing Rd, which was previously the Willows Childcare Centre, for $430,000 in 2005 along with other properties in the street - numbers 11, 9, 7, 5 and 1 - to develop the aquatic centre.

The property, on which stand an old villa and separate large building, was originally rented out at $270 a week, but had been empty for at least two years, WDC property manager Mike Hibbert said.

Numbers 11-5 Ewing Rd have been developed as part of the aquatic centre expansion and while number one is still tenanted number 3 is starting to look shabby while the council decides what to do with it. The property had a valuation of $410,000 in 2013, the council saying many properties had dropped in value since the global financial crisis in 2007/2008.


Mr Hibbert said in the past 12-18 months the council had explored options for number 3 specifically to secure long-term parking for the Whangarei Marina, just a short stroll across Riverside Dr. The council's plan since buying it has been to remove the buildings from the site.

And since the last tenants left, and not wishing to spend ratepayers funds overcapitalising on a building that might be removed, and not wanting to create problems for tenants, it had been empty, secured and monitored, he said.

The Northern Advocate visited the property after some Ewing Rd residents raised concerns with the paper that squatters may have moved in. One resident said she had seen "dishevelled" looking people emerging from the property several times when she had been on her way to work.

When the paper visited there was no sign of anybody living in the house, although one of the French doors at the rear of the villa was wide open, allowing easy access if anybody did want to sleep in the house overnight.

After the Advocate contacted the council with the residents' concerns the property was inspected by council staff.

"The good news is that there is no sign that anyone has been using the house, nothing has been left there and no damage has been done to it, so we have resecured the doors and we will be looking at where to go from here again," Mr Hibbert said.

"It is good to see neighbours keeping an eye on the safety of properties in their neighbourhood and we really appreciate the heads-up about this."