Anti-Catholic school neighbours keep battling

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The high-flying neighbours of a controversial Wakatipu school development have taken their legal battle to the Court of Appeal.

Last month, the High Court threw out a case made by Speargrass Flat residents objecting to the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin building a second St Joseph’s Primary campus for up to 112 kids in the rural area.

But the prominent neighbours last week lodged a further complaint with the Appellate Court, claiming that the High Court, like the Environment Court before it, made errors in law when assessing the application.

Opposing neighbours include Queenstown Lakes District Council planning commissioner Jane Taylor and husband Mark Taylor – the former Queenstown Airport Corporation board chair and engineering firm director James Hadley. Former neighbours QLDC senior policy analyst Scott Figenshow, and his partner and Lakes District Hospital boss Norman Gray also oppose.

The High Court judgment was supposed to settle a six-year fight to build another Catholic school at the 2.6-hectare Speargrass Flat Road site to meet the needs of an expanding roll at St Joseph’s restricted central Queenstown site.

High Court Judge Christine French agreed the Environment Court decision contained two errors of law, but they weren’t material errors that warranted the appeal to be upheld.

French also ruled that the Environment Court found “the residents were overstating the effects on amenity values”.
But in the application to the Court of Appeal, the neighbours claim that the High Court should have sent its decision back to the Environment Court for determination on the correct legal basis.

They also say that the High Court is wrong to say that the errors weren’t material.

Prior to the group’s latest move, the diocese and Queenstown Lakes District Council were planning on seeking costs of about $200,000 from the expensive court hearings.