A company linked to one of New Zealand's wealthiest families has won the right to build a house at Waiheke Island's deserted Cactus Bay, despite initially being banned.
Man O' War Station went to the Environment Court, fighting to develop the house at the more remote eastern end of the island.
The decision said the Spencers own 1800ha on the island and Man O' War Station Ltd, whose sole director is Berridge Spencer, opposed Auckland Council over an earlier refusal by Auckland Regional Council to allow a dwelling and associated works on its 800ha site at 725 Man O' War Bay Rd where architectural plans for the new house have been prepared by Fearon Hay Architects and the landscaping by Boffa Miskell.
But Judge Jeff Smith said that since the company filed its appeal, it and the council had agreed so a consent could now be granted and all conditions had been agreed, except for one over a covenant on part of the land to support the rehabilitation implementation maintenance and management plan and the obligations to maintain the vegetation in perpetuity.
The station argued there were adequate protection conditions and a covenant over a title to 800ha was inappropriate and unnecessarily.
The court agreed and refused the encumbrance, noting "no significant advantages" to be gained by doing so. "In those circumstances, we decline to require a covenant," the decision said, noting different treatment of a similar development at Owhiti Bay, also owned by the Spencers, where no covenant was required.
Cactus Bay vegetation had been rehabilitated which not only had considerable benefits in terms of the coastline's natural character but would also ameliorate any visibility effects of the new dwelling, said the decision from the judge sitting with two commissioners.
Conditions of the consent provided for stock-proof fencing, weed control and revegetation, pest control, limits on earthworks and construction near trees and monitoring by an arborist.
"To prevent contamination of natural watercourses or Cactus Bay with water containing soil sediment, there shall be no stockpiling of excavated material on the site," the consent said.
The house must have a matt grey roof cladding, clear glass and have cladding, decking and screens of timber which is then left to weather.
Feral pests such as rabbits, goats, cats, pigs, deer and mustelids must not be allowed to affect revegetation areas. Exotic plants are banned, along with accumulation of rubbish or other unsightly offensive material and a $75,000 bond will be released only when vegetation gets to a certain stage.
In 2010, the Herald reported how two houses were proposed for 725 Man O' War Bay Rd, listed then by QV as an 802ha site.
Auckland City Council had granted the company permission to build but the Auckland Regional Council opposed that in the Environment Court, arguing it was wrong to put such large houses on one of Waiheke's few remaining undeveloped coasts.