Council consent cock-up

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Queenstown Hill residents have successfully appealed against City Hall consenting view-blocking apartments below them.

High Court judge Gerald Nation has ruled council decisions to approve the 24-unit development, and on a non-notified basis so neighbours couldn’t object, were “invalid” and should be reconsidered.

The judge says the council made an “error” in having “inadequate regard” for the fact the development site, 1 York Street, had been rezoned from high-density to low-density following neighbours’ submissions to the proposed district plan.

Developer CSF Trustees, co-owned by Aussie, Lachlan Francis, had appealed that rezoning.

But the Environment Court ruled the appeal wasn’t allowable as CSF Trustees hadn’t originally submitted to the district plan.

Four neighbours then took the council to the High Court, including couple Sue and John Knowles – Sue had successfully applied to the Environment Court for that strike-out – and veteran weatherman David Crow.

Sue and John are delighted the High Court’s invited the council to “think again”, however Sue finds it “bewildering” they had to go to court.

A former sports broadcaster, John says “we have no argument with the council as a whole, but we just think the planning department seriously dropped the ball on this one”.

“We’re disappointed that we’ve been put through a long and gruelling ringer.”

Without divulging figures, John says the cost’s been “significant”, but they were fortunate some “very supportive neighbours” shared the burden.

However, the judge does say the neighbours are entitled to costs.

John says the neighbours had all been concerned over “the incursion of a commercial development into what is clearly a residential area”.

“I think they call Queenstown Hill the ‘dress circle’ for residents, and this was an incursion into that.”

John says it’s not just views they stood to lose from the visitor apartment complex, but also their peace and quiet.

The complex was to have gone above a pre-sold 16-unit apartment development on the York St/Hallenstein St corner that Francis has undisputed consent to develop – though work’s yet to start.

Council spokesman Jack Barlow says the council’s “still assessing the court’s decision and its implications”.

Scene wasn’t able to contact Francis by deadline.

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