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Support for old buildings remit

South Wairarapa councillors are pushing for the legal power to fix up derelict buildings.

At a recent South Wairarapa District Council [SWDC] Strategy Working Committee meeting, Mayor Martin Connelly moved that council support a remit by Gisborne District Council to Local Government New Zealand [LGNZ].

Connelly said Gisborne’s remit is asking LGNZ to lobby the government “for legislative change enabling local government authorities to remediate the decaying condition of unoccupied derelict buildings that have deteriorated to a state where they negatively impact the amenity

of the surrounding area”.

It was supported unanimously by SWDC’s elected members.

A remit must be supported by at least five councils before it is screened by an LGNZ committee for inclusion in the organisation’s yearly meeting.

If the remit progresses and receives a majority of support from LGNZ member councils, it will then direct LGNZ’s policy advocacy.

“They need at least five supporting councils, and I am recommending that we be one of them,” Connelly said.

“In the explanation note they say there is no legislation enabling councils to take proactive action on the decaying condition of vacant buildings.

“Intervention is only possible when buildings become so dangerous that the Building Act 2004 allows for a dangerous building notice.

“The absence of enabling regulations and enforcement tools can mean that derelict sites negatively affect neighbourhoods and city centres.

“The public expects their local authorities to maintain community standards and they frequently are disappointed by our inability to intervene, especially when keystone buildings deteriorate over decades.”

Connelly said that when he read through the proposed remit, it “exactly mirrors a number of the circumstances we see here”.

“We, too, have pulled our remaining hair out, wondering what we can do.”

The dilapidated state of several prominent buildings in central Featherston, for example, continues to outrage locals, putting pressure on the council to pursue legal and regulatory options to get them tidied up.

Deputy Mayor Melissa Sadler-Futter said she strongly supported the remit and was “only sorry we didn’t think to do it ourselves”.

“What this does for me is it is a bit of a shot in the arm and a real reminder of the power we have to lobby,” she said.

“I would hope that not only will we support this remit, but we will use those same words to lobby our local MPs and hold hands with Gisborne.”

    Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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