Classic Builders’ plans for former Bella Vista site at Tauranga’s The Lakes welcomed

The announcement 13 homes will be built on the site of the failed Bella Vista development has been welcomed by people who lost their homes and say the new development allows them to finally move on.

Classic Builders will begin work next month on the construction of the new standalone homes at The Lakes site, previously owned by Bella Vista Homes.

Five house-and-land packages will initially be released and while prices are yet to be set, they are not expected to exceed $950,000, the company said.

It closes one door on a three-year saga, from the Tauranga City Council’s evacuations of 21 Bella Vista homes and building sites in March 2018 over various concerns, through multiple court cases, demolitions relocations and settlements.

The council bought the sites from the owners and eventually sold it to Tauranga-based Classic Group, which Classic Builders falls under.

Classic Group director Peter Cooney said his team was aware the site was the subject of public scrutiny and the group wanted to assure people “we are driving this development forward with a new vision and quality assurance measures in place every step of the way to ensure success”.

The new homes are expected to be solely available to owner-occupiers, not investors.

Cooney said his team had already worked with contractors to “ensure the retaining walls and civil works have been carried out to the specified plan” and all activity followed safe practices.

“Retaining has been established along the rear boundary to mitigate any possible stability issues with the housing at the back of the lots, and our development includes extensive retaining between the lots too.

“The result is solid, flat platforms with retaining on all sides, all achieved before any building begins,” Cooney said.

Former Bella Vista homeowner Andre Stewart said it was good the site would now be “developed properly”.

Stewart, who is still in touch with other affected homeowners, said things had not worked out for them but this latest development helped to give them closure.

“That is the biggest thing for us, is to move on,” he said.

“I’ve moved on, I’d say everyone else has. People have had children, and families have grown. Everyone seems to be carrying on.”

Stewart said he believed the future site would be a benefit to The Lakes and the local community.

“I think everyone in that neighbourhood will be wanting to see that hill finished, rather than driving past and thinking ‘oh, I remember what that was’.

“Obviously, we are a bit gutted we won’t be able to live in the suburb – that was part of our hopes and dreams. But it’s nice to see it’s [being looked after] by a local building company.”

Former Bella Vista homeowner Ron McDiarmid had also moved on and the new development gave closure, “but it’s still disappointing we are not living where we wanted to live at that time”.

The situation was bittersweet, he said.

“We probably would’ve still been there. Now, we probably won’t be able to afford to buy there.”

Former Tauranga mayor Greg Brownless, in power at the time of the fallout, said he was pleased to see the development was subjected to tender rather than a private arrangement.

Brownless was also happy to see retaining walls had been swiftly addressed.

“For me, it gives me some comfort all the retaining will be done first. As an amateur in the building field, I would’ve thought that was the logical way to do it.”

He was pleased to see the land finally being used again to help address the city’s housing crisis.

The new homes are expected to have a northwest outlook and be designed to fit the subdivision design specifications stipulated for The Lakes, ensuring they will sit well with the surrounding homes.

They are expected to be of a reasonable size, while still providing outdoor living space and necessary on-site turning for each dwelling.

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