Wānaka Sun       

“Castle on the Hill” for judicial review

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 01 Apr, 2021 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

A judicial review into an 8.9 metre, Briar Bank Drive “castle on the hill” which breaches a maximum planning rule height of 7 metres will proceed on June 2 in the Invercargill High Court.

Thirty residents from the surrounding area signed a petition for a judicial review of the now $8 million - $10 million build, and some put funds towards this.The judicial review was lodged because of what residents saw as significant rule breaches.

.A spokesperson for the group managed the original Penrith subdivision with sections first on the market in 1997.

“Part of that process and getting approval for it was that there were two Penrith zones agreed. One was residential of 1000 square metres and the other was a large lot of 3000 square metres minimum. Besides, there was an area identified in conjunction with the Wanaka Environmental Society and the QLDC to protect the established views – the visual amenity line – if you were inside that line certain rules applied and if you were outside it, it was less restrictive 

“If you were inside, the key rules were that you couldn't break the skyline; earthworks and native tree removal were very restricted, and the house couldn't be seen from within 50m of the edge of the lake excluding. So basically, the track around the lake was the area it couldn't be seen from,” the spokesperson said

They said the build in question (which was within the visual amenity line), exceeded the 7m in some places by 1.9m and breached the skyline from the entirety of Penrith Park Drive. QLDC also approved the owners to excavate 1900sq m, which in conjunction with the removal of a lot of kanuka made it even more visible.”

 “They (the owners) break three key rules that have a significant impact - the skyline; exceeding the height limit, and the building is visible from around the lake. And that's before the roof was added,” the spokesperson said. 

“It has got worse since it has the roof on.”

At the judicial hearing Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) will be asked why the build didn't affect any of the neighbours or why any of the breaches weren't considered significant.

“Every now and again I think I'm banging my head against a brick wall but then I look at the building and think it's the maximum height anyone has considered building (which is 7 metres) and this one is 8.9m.”

The spokesperson said the build didn't need to be that high because the owners bought the section in front which gave them about 9500 sq/m -  a “huge section,” and they could have built a single-story home that would have given them the same view.

“It's incompetency,” they said.

“There is a rule that there has to be screening planted so that the house can't be seen from public places. To achieve this would require the vegetation to be 7 or 8 metres high – which would require 20 years to achieve. In reality, there is no one on council going to be able to monitor that in 20 years time. And if they did provide that screening it would block their view.

“And lights blaring out of the sky- there are so many rules that other people have not been able to break- and this build will break so many of them.

“8.9m in an area where you aren't allowed to be seen from public places and not allowed to break the skyline is stunningly bad.”

The spokesperson said the affected residents wanted the High Court to decide that the current consent was void and the owners had to apply for a new consent which would be heard by commission rather than the council. In theory, if they didn't get consent they would have to pull the house down, they said.

“I don't think this has ever happened but the house is a pretty dramatic breach of all the rules,” they said

Because of the urgency of the case, it is being heard in the Invercargill High Court because it has the capacity at the right time.

The owner of the build declined to comment.

Read edition 1020 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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