Buyer will stick to complying subdivision
The deal went unconditional on 31 October, for settlement in January. The price is undisclosed but was part of a package.
The sale means Mr Gillespie will not continue to test the High Court rejection of his subdivision proposal in the Appeal Court â€” but the new owners have not decided yet quite how to carry out the subdivision, so the case may not be dropped.
Mr Adams said the company intended to carry out a complying subdivision. “We’ve got a few other ideas, but within the allowable,” he said.
The package also includes just over 7ha between Whangaparaoa Rd and the Weiti River at Red Beach, where Mr Gillespie had three houses, implements and boat sheds and a wharf.
Five years of battling
Mr Gillespie bought the Pakiri land, 149ha rising steeply from the southern end of the isolated beach, in 1995 and got resource consent to subdivide the six titles into nine lots. He then sought to create 14 rural-residential lots, a nonconforming subdivision which was rejected by the Rodney District Council.
The Environment Court, impressed by the extensive revegetation programme, approved the more intense subdivision in October 1999. In the High Court, Justice Robert Chambers roundly rejected this basis of approval and ordered the application back to the Environment Court. Mr Gillespie’s application to Justice Chambers for leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal was due to be heard on 20 November.
Environment Court Judge Gordon Whiting said the design methodology of landscape architect Denis Scott would enhance a landscape denuded of its vegetation last century for pastoral use, resulting in soil instability and erosion. An important aspect was that screening to hide buildings was not the most important issue. Mr Scott’s aims were to inhibit erosion and encourage moisture retention.
Houses a no-no for ARC
But witnesses for the Rodney District Council (until it quit the case in February last year) and the Auckland Regional Council emphasised the appearance of houses in this landscape as an extremely adverse effect of the 14-lot subdivision.
This point was re-emphasised last week in a Rodney hearing on an application by farmer John Matheson to transfer titles from the hillside above Mr Gillespie’s land so he could create more lots behind the dunes, on the flat at the end of the beach.
ARC counsel John Burns took the Chambers decision to mean a halt to residential development along Pakiri Beach, a much sterner approach than the council took to nearby development proposals over the past five years. One of the key issues in this is the battle by local government planners to have their plans recognised as final arbiters of what will be allowed, versus the eternal desire of developers to create something different, just this once.
Mr Burns put it this way: “In my submission, the objectives and policies of the regional policy statement and the district plan, so recently endorsed by the High Court, are quite plain.
“There should be no increase in the number of lots available for residential development and opportunities for dwellings in the Mangawhai-Pakiri special character area, and new residential development and other structures on those lots which presently exist should be located in such a way as to be visually unobtrusive.”
Referring to the Matheson proposal, Mr Burns took the Chambers judgment well beyond what the judge said, into the absolutely-no-housing realm of past ARC evidence: “â€¦ the proposal does not achieve the other objectives of limiting the number of sites in the Pakiri area to the number which exists at present, and to ensuring that dwellings and other buildings will not be constructed on the headland on the southern [Matheson] property.”
Gillespie has other plans
Mr Gillespie was relieved at the end of a long battle, but sad not to see it through. “I’ll be happy being away from spending another $30,000 to get a decision one way or another,” he said.
“I got what I consider a fair price. Having said that, I feel sad that this thing isn’t resolved once and for all. I still think it would have been in our favour [in the Court of Appeal]. It might have been sufficient to alter a few planners’ thoughts â€” let’s hope it’s reflected in the district plan [and a new draft of that is released on 28 November for submissions].”
Mr Gillespie has an Orewa project on the table â€” a 13-storey tower in the centre of the beach town’s business area, to contain 80 apartments above 3600mÂ² of retail mall. He has one objector, the National Trading Co (New World supermarket), arguing parking issues.
That objection came after one call asking if he’d be prepared to lease a large ground-floor area to one tenant, which he rejected. “You end up with your business being controlled by a single tenant who has a disproportionate say, and you let your building for half the rent everybody else would pay.”
Apart from that, Mr Gillespie might head out of the area for a while: “I think I could possibly avoid deals in the ARC area from now on. There are some very interesting things in the provincial areas that are still great to work in.”