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NZ Demolition rules 'affect 10,000 homes'

Property Here - Tuesday, May 07, 2013

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Almost 10,000 houses are affected by an Environment Court decision on pre-1940s demolition consents, a planner says.

Colin Hardacre of Hardacre Planning in Hillsborough, said a decision last week was significant for comments about Auckland Council's incorrect position on the houses. He said the decision had not received the media coverage it deserved.

A group, including the New Zealand Heavy Haulage Association whose members move houses, has been battling against the incorrect protection classifications of dozens of houses since 2007.

Judge Jeff Smith, with two environment commissioners, described the matter over banning demolition of the houses as a "sorry history" and said it had taken seven years to process appeals brought against the council over a group of properties in Remuera, Mission Bay, Parnell, Glendowie, Herne Bay, Epsom, Greenlane, Mt Albert and Otahuhu.

Hardacre said 7550 houses in the Residential 2B zone and about 1900 more in the Residential 1 zone were at the mercy of the council's assessment methods which were wrong.

"Other affected people did not pursue their democratic rights in front of the court because they were told that the council heritage assessment methods were correct and their chances of success would be low.

The court decision clearly debunks that council position," Hardacre said.

He asked why the council had maintained its position over anti-demolition rules on the 10,000 houses for 6 years when there was insufficient evidence for its position.

"What was the cost of this indefensible council position to the ratepayers?" Hardacre asked. "Isn't this an example of the council planners knowing better that anyone else and trying to force their own agenda on landowners and ratepayers where they are plainly wrong and refuse to listen to the fair and reasonable planning arguments, planning facts and law?"

The judge said the court was disturbed to hear how the council was wrongly applying rules over demolition. The council had also wrongly classified properties, the judge said.