Posted on September 29, 2022
A rule quietly ushered in affecting properties across the Hastings district coastline has left residents frustrated, puzzled and out of pocket.
Hastings District Council is using new coastal flooding data to require homeowners to raise the height of their renovations.
For some, that means going up about 2 metres off the ground.
But there are questions on whether the data should even be used and the mayor has apologised for failing to tell residents about the new rule.
Just a few hundred metres from the seaside, with their lamb Girly in the garden, Glen and Megan Lindsay look at their home and think about what could have been.
They live in the seaside village of Haumoana and wanted to extend their house, until they came up against the council.
The Haumoana coast is a nice spot, but is renowned for inundation on heavy swell days. Photo / Warren Buckland
“I look at the house and I think about what we would have to do and it reminds me of a house bus that I know of and they’ve put a loft on the end of it,” Glen Lindsay said.
“I don’t like that look and I don’t think I’d like that for my house.”
Based off new coastal inundation data from the regional council, the Hastings District Council is forcing new builds and renovations to be higher off the ground.
Glen Lindsay said the new rules came out of the blue and would change the house completely.
“Our new floor level had to be 600[mm] higher than our original floor level now … we would’ve got to the end of the house along the deck and then you would’ve had to step up.”
So the Lindsays abandoned their plans, with money going down the drain.
Glen and Megan Lindsay wanted to extend their house out into the grassy area, but were told they would have to raise their floor level and the roof along with it. Photo / Tom Kitchin – RNZ
“We’ve spent between $12,000 and $15,000 and we’ve got nothing to show for it,” Megan Lindsay said.
Other residents who did not wish to be named said they had found the consenting process “frustrating”, “puzzling”, “soul destroying” and “stressful”.
Keith Newman lives across the road from Haumoana Beach and is chairman of local advocacy group Walking on Water.
Many people have come to him with complaints about the new rule, which he called “unnecessary”.
“If you’re talking about pole houses in between normal residents’ houses it’s going to be a real mix and match, it’s going to look ugly.”
Residents had a meeting with the mayor a few months ago to express their concerns, Newman said.
“The mayor said ‘listen, we’re sorry – this was a bad communications effort, we don’t normally do that, this is not how we work, so we apologise to the local community’.”
He was still waiting for the council’s promise to provide clearer instructions.
“That still hasn’t happened and in recent meetings, the answers to some of these questions still haven’t been produced, but there’s a lot of frustrated people out here.”
In a statement, Hastings District Council planning and regulatory group manager John O’Shaughnessy confirmed mayor Sandra Hazlehurst apologised.
“She felt council could have done more, earlier to bring the matter to the affected homeowners’ attention.”
He explained the council had to use the most “up-to-date” information on coastal risks.
“The most relevant information available to council at this time is the coastal hazard risk identified by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council.”
A regional council hazards map shows the other areas of the Hastings district are not at risk in the same way as Te Awanga, Haumoana and Clifton.
The coastal inundation risk data does not include areas south of Clifton, such as Waimārama and Ocean Beach, so those areas are not subject to the rules.
The Napier City Council also said it used this data to determine floor levels.
But the regional council said it would not advise other local bodies to use this information for building heights.
“The information is the best available at present but the decision to use it for building consents sits with the district councils,” its principal engineer Jose Beya said in a statement.
“Napier City Council and Hastings District Council in conjunction with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have commissioned a coastal inundation risk assessment specifically for that purpose [for building consents].”
The full draft of the report is due in December, but it will not be published until a peer review process is done, which could take six more months.