Massive landslip at Clovelly Road’s cliff-top house

A neighbour of the Eastern Beach home left sitting precariously on the edge of a collapsed cliff says she is disappointed with Auckland Council’s lack of concern for homeowners of Clovelly Road’s cliff top houses.

This follows a massive landslip in which a 10-metre high cliff face collapsed claiming half of a Clovelly Road home’s backyard on Sunday.

A slab of the deck has been left hanging over the cliff and occupants of the neighbouring properties have been warned off going too close to the edge.

The slip was filmed by Bucklands Beach resident Ben Dellabarca who says his dogs were underneath the cliff just moments before it collapsed onto Eastern Beach.

A slab of deck survived the land slip, leaving it hanging over the edge of the cliff.

The concerned neighbour, who declined to be named, says these slips are devastating for home owners, and the process of making a claim with the Earthquake Commission (EQC) – who deal with these sorts of problems – can take months.

“One of our other neighbours had a slip at Easter time and he is still trying to deal with EQC… council don’t seem to care all that much if the cliff collapses, because it’s not their problem, its EQC’s problem,” she says.

“Further down the road, a house was condemned just a few weeks ago after another slip.”

The Clovelly Road resident says taking precautions to protect her home from the same fate proved a lengthy and drawn-out process.

She says it took more than two years to have a retaining wall signed off by council that would protect her home from landslips. The wall was signed off just weeks before Sunday’s slip.

“When we bought this house we were told by the geotech engineers who surveyed the property that the land we were on could be unstable,” she says.

“We decided to put the wall in, but it just got held up by council. They made us bend over backwards to get it done and it’s only just been completed now.”

She says she is glad to finally have it completed, fearing for the safety of her home and her family.

Auckland Council geotechnical engineer Ross Roberts says houses built on cliff tops face unique risks and Clovelly Road has a history of instability.

“The council has today investigated the slip and its impact on the buildings directly at the top of the cliff face. We have also ensured the area below the slip is made safe for the public, including putting up signage,” Roberts said on Monday.

“Neither the property filmed by a member of the public nor two neighbouring properties are considered dangerous.”

He says unless there is further movement that directly affects any buildings, this is a private matter and will be dealt with by individual owners and EQC.

At least two properties were affected by the land slip at Eastern Beach on Sunday.

Former Local Board member and Clovelly Road resident Steve Udy says people need to understand the dangers of chasing a beautiful view.

“There are a section of houses along Clovelly Road which are built in what I think is just a shade too close to the cliff. When they build those, they must understand Auckland’s coastline is fairly crumbly and there are risks,” he says.

Udy says there needs to be a sensible look at how many houses the Eastern Beach coastline can sustain and people need to be cautious when extending their properties towards the cliffs edge.

There needs to be clearer distance guidelines from Auckland Council, Udy says, to ensure property owners are building a safe distance from the edge of the cliff.

The Clovelly Road property of former Manukau City mayor Sir Barry Curtis succumbed to a cliff collapse in 2008.

“We need to be very sensible, the council, property developers, owners, everyone, and look at how much intensity can a fragile area like this stand,” says Udy.

“I think Mother Nature is saying this is too much.”