Daily Archives: February 27, 2016

Delta #EpicFail Noble Subdivision Consent : Strictly Optional

Election Year : The following opinion is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Received from Christchurch Driver [CD]
Sat, 27 Feb 2016 at 10:08 p.m. Last updated at 10:32 p.m.

Your correspondent would like to issue a warning to any Dunedin ratepayers venturing into this website : What you are about to read is hazardous to your stress levels. Please fortify yourselves with a nice cup of tea and a big saucer to catch the spills.

We return to the scene of the Christchurch Delta demise today to examine a few “timing and consent” issues.

These may appear to be innocuous words designed not to cause alarm, and indeed, Graham Crombie had assured Dunedin ratepayers more than once that the whole Noble Subdivision problem is merely one of “timing”.

It is now apparent that we cannot take at face value anything that is said by Mr Crombie in regard to Noble, and readers, yet again, not far below the surface, lies another tale of absolute Delta stupidity.

First a few facts to set the scene.

Noble Investments Ltd gained Christchurch City Council consent for 304 lots in May 2009. The subdivision had a small commercial area and a variety of lot sizes.

Crucially, the roads were designed to best practice with a 25m carriage way. The carriageways were separated by a median strip and it had recessed parking bays and cycle lanes. (No cycle lane jokes please!)

Delta started work in late 2009 on the site.

Then in December 2009 NIL (yes readers, NIL by name and NIL by value and many other measures !) applied for a variation to their consent.

This was no minor variation : the commercial area increased by over 200 per cent and the eventual analysis by Abley Transportation Consultants was that the main spine road would have more than double the original vehicle movements.

Readers, please hold your cups tightly :
Delta then ignored the original consented drawings and built the subdivision’s main roads and layout according to a completely NEW plan that had NOT BEEN CONSENTED to by the Christchurch City Council (CCC).

This was not for a day, a week or a month. Delta continued to build the main collector road THAT WAS 4 METRES NARROWER than the consented roadway for at least NINE MONTHS.

Linking back to yesterday’s post your correspondent surmises that the nuclear budget explosion must have happened in late 2009, and the variation being a desperate attempt to cheapen up the subdivision by making the roads narrower and the more commercial area was to pay for the stormwater work that Delta failed to budget for.

Let’s back the truck up here : Can anyone possibly imagine what the DCC would do to a Contractor that continued to work on unconsented work on a massive subdivision for a year in Dunedin ?

The DCC prosecutes landlords for adding an extra room to their student flats, not to mention trying to close down the Saddle Hill quarry which actually has some sort of consent.

In August 2010 neighbours complained to CCC that unauthorised work was occurring on the subdivision and things then got VERY messy. The CCC did issue a retrospective consent, but the Yaldhurst community and many CCC councillors are up in arms about the decision to grant retrospective consent. The Yaldhurst community are seeking a judicial review of the decision. The situation is still not resolved.

Oh, and by the way the December 2009 variation to the consent deleted a road connecting the neighbouring land that NIL had agreed to build, which is another reason why, five years on, the project is still mired in legal action.

Yep, Delta knew how to pick em ! Delta being Delta were too stupid to realise that if NIL were happy to clothesline the neighbour whose co-operation it needed, it would have no compunction doing the same to them.

But readers, that’s not all : there’s is more utter ineptitude :

The CCC got around to warning NIL at some point that any unconsented work was done at the Developer’s risk.

And the Developer, NIL, told CCC that it continued to work because ….., OF THE AVAILABILITY OF THE CONTRACTOR.

There is no way NIL could insist that Delta break the law and continue to work.

In other words, Delta continued to work on the site because it wanted to, because it was easier than finding other work. Another possibility is that Delta felt compelled to continue because it created the whole problem with its monumental stormwater mistake. However two acts of stupidity is still stupidity.

In an act of supreme hubris, it knew the work was unconsented but thumbed its nose at the CCC and did it anyway.

This, from a CCO.

Yes the Developer, NIL are the laughing stock of the industry and have no credibility. But Delta were their enablers. Delta were stupid enough to indulge them when any other contractor would have walked away in disgust.

Words have nearly failed this correspondent. (Apologies again for the caps – stress!)

So, let us return to the directors.

What did they know and when did they know it ?

Did they ever ask management the first and most basic question on a project, “Have you got consent ?”

or, each month, “are there any changes we should know about ?”

or “any changes to our risk profile ?”

Can they read a plan ?

Did they ever visit the site ?

Do they have any aptitude at all to keep tabs and rein in the management of a civil contracting firm?

This correspondent does not believe that the management of Delta, a Council Controlled Organisation, would have kept the Directors in the dark. They are bureaucrats, after all, and would be careful to pass on anything contentious.

On Luggate and Jacks Point, the Auditor-General actually commented that the board had been fully involved and Warren Larsen noted that more transparency and communication was required at the DCC companies.

In the troubled history of the directorial shortcomings of the DCC companies, this is a new low point.

Your correspondent, also, is incredulous that the ODT had never bothered to investigate any of the specific acts of stupidity at Noble.

The information is all public record. We can be grateful to What if? Dunedin that they have provided a forum for this issue.

The Noble Subdivision is an intermodal multiple train wreck.

Correction received.
Sun, 28 Feb 2016 10:27 pm

At the above post, your correspondent made two errors in regard to the reduced width of the main roads on a number of items :

The reduction in carriage way was from 19.5 m to 11.5 m, a reduction of 8 m, not 4 m….

The roads reduced in width was not the main collector road : It was both the main collector road AND the loop roads…. that is, the majority of the roading.

Delta advert p58 MarApr2011 canterburytoday.co.nz

Related Posts and Comments:
● 27.2.16 Delta #NUCLEAR EpicFail —Noble Subdivision : Incompetent…
● 25.2.16 Delta #EpicFail: Mayor Cull —Forced Sale Fundamentals 101
● 24.2.16 Delta #EpicFail —Noble Subdivision: Cameron, Crombie & McKenzie
● 23.2.16 DCC: DCHL half year result to 31 December 2015
19.2.16 Delta: Update on Yaldhurst subdivision debt recovery
15.2.16 Delta / DCHL not broadcasting position on subdivision mortgagee tender
30.1.16 DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses
● 29.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision ● Some forensics
● 21.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision
21.1.16 DCC LTAP 2016/17 budget discussion #ultrahelpfulhints
10.1.16 Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore
15.12.15 Noble property subdivision aka Yaldhurst Village | Mortgagee Tender
21.9.15 DCC: Not shite (?) hitting the fan but DVL
20.7.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA #LGOIMA
1.4.15 Christchurch subdivisions: Heat gone?
24.3.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA
23.3.15 Noble property subdivision: “Denials suggest that we have not learned.”
17.3.15 DCC —Delta, Jacks Point Luggate II…. Noble property subdivision

● 14.5.14 (via DCC website) Larsen Report February 2012
A recent governance review of the Dunedin City Council companies was conducted by Warren Larsen.

● 20.3.14 Delta: Report from Office of the Auditor-General
Inquiry into property investments by Delta Utility Services Limited at Luggate and Jacks Point

█ For more, enter the term *delta* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Noble Village Subdivision, Yaldhurst Road – Site Plans Dec 2009
Source: CCC Archives – Proceedings (March 2012)

NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-01
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-02
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-03
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-04
NIL Yaldhurst Site Plan Dec2009 PS-05

41 Comments

Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, Democracy, Design, District Plan, Economics, Geography, Infrastructure, Name, New Zealand, OAG, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Resource management, Site, Town planning, Transportation, Travesty, Urban design

Delta #NUCLEAR EpicFail —Noble Subdivision : Incompetent Contracting

Election Year : The following opinion is offered in the public interest. -Eds

Received from Christchurch Driver [CD]
Fri, 26 Feb 2016 at 11:03 p.m. Last updated Sun, 28 Feb 2016 at 2:49 p.m.

Subdivision 101 : Don’t forget the STORMWATER DISCHARGE

Firstly, your correspondent apologises for the teenage habit of using caps in text for emphasis, but recently acquired knowledge some of which is shared below, defied conventional grammar.

An aside: your correspondent was overly fulsome in his praise of Delta CEO Grady Cameron’s transparency this week, when he revealed that Delta spent $3.3M “strengthening their position” vis-à-vis the $20M + debt owed to Delta on the Noble Subdivision at Yaldhurst, Christchurch.

It would have been a lot more credible had Mr Cameron revealed this TWO YEARS AGO, when as outlined in the National Business Review today, the deal was actually agreed.

Your correspondent now knows why the cone of silence has descended upon the Delta Directors, Grady Cameron, GCFO Grant McKenzie and Mayor Cull on this matter.

Mayor Cull has claimed this is just a bad debt. With all respect to the Mayor (that he is due) that statement is simply bovine excrement.

Mayor Cull on Morning Report sounded desperate when he claimed that Noble was not the same as the Jacks Point and Luggate debacles. In this he is correct —it was worse.

It is a tale of a perfect storm of contracting ineptitude as well as directorial torpor.

It is well covered by various posts and indeed the Auditor-General’s report that Delta had severe governance problems, due at least in part to a preponderance of accountants and numbers men. Warren Larsen in his 2012 report, politely said that this led to a culture of “excessive collegiality” (lovely phrase) at the board level. A more accurate description would be the Board acted as a band of serial head nodders.

Your correspondent can report that Delta executive management, and without doubt Dunedin City Council (DCC), knew that the project was in default in 2010 for millions, if not before.

Delta started work on the subdivision in 2009. Your correspondent understands that one arm of Delta / DCC loaned money to the contracting arm so that wages, suppliers and outside contractors could be paid.

This is important because there were it seems some parameters around the loan advances from the finance arm to the contracting arm.

Delta took around two years to complete the development. This is also very instructive because this correspondent’s information is that Delta left site several times because the finance arm would not advance money. Delta’s directors knew they had a dog by the tail in 2010.

So the critical question is – why was the project in default to a degree that caused Delta to leave the site several times between 2009-2011 ?

Readers might think : What was that deadbeat developer up to that caused this default ?

Sadly : the really, really dispiriting fact is that Delta themselves appear to have been the architect of the default that led us to this utter shambles through sheer contracting incompetence.

It seems that Delta provided budgets and estimates to the developers for the subdivision work. In return for one arm of Delta advancing money to pay the other arm, Delta got to do the subdivision work at prices somewhat over market rates.

The Developer relied on the Delta numbers for their budgets to their funders and to set section prices.

The elementary and fatal mistake that Delta look to have made is that they priced the work off incomplete drawings. This was only fatal because they did not know what any other experienced Canterbury civil contractors knew, which is that the STORMWATER DISCHARGE requirements which is controlled by the Canterbury Regional Council, were becoming ever more complex and were a very big cost.

Even if the exact design was not known, a competent contractor would have made some allowance or sought further information, particularly when they were not in a competitive situation. However without knowing the exact details, it looks like the Delta staff had their blinkers on, priced what they saw on the incomplete documents, and catastrophe resulted.

While Delta destructed millions of public funds on Noble, the directors slumbered on. They either had no clue about what questions to ask management to certify if things were under control at Noble, or knew and covered it up.

From what this correspondent can ascertain, Delta started work onsite before the Canterbury Regional Council Consent was issued, which is an issue in itself that bears scrutiny. For a short while earth was being moved, roads built and things were OK.

Then while work onsite is charging on….. BOOM !!!! a NUCLEAR budget explosion emerges when it is discovered that Stormwater discharge requirements will cost $6-7 MILLION, which is MORE than Delta’s ENTIRE contract. The Stormwater discharge had to be installed for all stages which meant there was no quick recovery for Delta at the end of Stage 1.

From there, the financial future of the project and Delta’s payday was doomed. This correspondent understands that the gross realisation of Stage 1 of the subdivision was $6M LESS than the COST of the work. Releasing more stages required more advanced funds from Delta, which appears to have happened, but other legal action then held up any release of sections to market.

By starting the subdivision and agreeing to be at risk (ie forgoing progress payments until sections were sold) Delta were doomed by their own actions. Once they started, they had to keep going until it was finished, otherwise they had no chance of ever seeing any money. Their budget mistakes made sure that the developers who already were spurned by the banks and dealing with 3rd tier lenders had no chance of additional funding.

Delta continued to pour money into the project and watch while problem after problem continued to bedevil the project.

The final indignity and rebuke to Delta is that the mortgagee sale documents apparently treat the land as a bare land development and do not even consider it a subdivision, ie NO value is attached to the $11.3M of Delta work, because the completed work wasn’t built to CCC specifications. Delta must share some blame for this also – it is another example of Delta’s inexperience in the Canterbury market.

This correspondent is determined to bring the directors to account and this will be the subject of future posts.

This correspondent acknowledges that he is seeing through a glass darkly as it were in relation to the precise facts. Some figures and details may not be quite right, but the overall picture portrayed we can be confident of. Mr Cameron is urged to release the full facts about Noble and ignore the ineffectual Mr Crombie before more unpleasant facts about Noble and other Delta matters emerge.

It is clear that the past and present directors (with perhaps one exception) have erected a wall of silence to keep the Public and Councillors in the dark about the massive destruction of public funds they have presided over. They are unfit stewards.

It is now this correspondent’s opinion that the Auditor-General’s investigation of Delta is essential.

Related Posts and Comments:
● 25.2.16 Delta #EpicFail: Mayor Cull —Forced Sale Fundamentals 101
● 24.2.16 Delta #EpicFail —Noble Subdivision: Cameron, Crombie & McKenzie
● 23.2.16 DCC: DCHL half year result to 31 December 2015
19.2.16 Delta: Update on Yaldhurst subdivision debt recovery
15.2.16 Delta / DCHL not broadcasting position on subdivision mortgagee tender
30.1.16 DCC Rates: LOCAL CONTEXT not Stats —Delta and Hippopotamuses
● 29.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision ● Some forensics
● 21.1.16 Delta #EpicFail —Yaldhurst Subdivision
21.1.16 DCC LTAP 2016/17 budget discussion #ultrahelpfulhints
10.1.16 Infrastructure ‘open to facile misinterpretation’…. or local ignore
15.12.15 Noble property subdivision aka Yaldhurst Village | Mortgagee Tender
21.9.15 DCC: Not shite (?) hitting the fan but DVL
20.7.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA #LGOIMA
1.4.15 Christchurch subdivisions: Heat gone?
24.3.15 Noble property subdivision —DELTA
23.3.15 Noble property subdivision: “Denials suggest that we have not learned.”
17.3.15 DCC —Delta, Jacks Point Luggate II…. Noble property subdivision

● 14.5.14 (via DCC website) Larsen Report February 2012
A recent governance review of the Dunedin City Council companies was conducted by Warren Larsen.

● 20.3.14 Delta: Report from Office of the Auditor-General
Inquiry into property investments by Delta Utility Services Limited at Luggate and Jacks Point

█ For more, enter the term *delta* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

14 Comments

Filed under Business, Construction, DCC, DCHL, DCTL, Delta, Democracy, Dunedin, Economics, Geography, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, OAG, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Resource management, Site, Town planning, Travesty, Urban design