Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Graeme Hart's mansion escapes rezoning

Aerial view of the clifftop mansion and grounds of Graeme Hart in Glendowie. Photo / File
Aerial view of the clifftop mansion and grounds of Graeme Hart in Glendowie. Photo / File

New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart reportedly took a $2 billion hit this year, but he can sleep easy knowing his $31 million Auckland mansion has escaped rezoning for intensive housing.

Hart's home is among a small number of clifftop houses on Riddell Rd and beachfront properties on Karaka Bay in Glendowie that kept their traditional single house status in final recommendations for the city's new planning rulebook.

Most of Glendowie, including other clifftop properties on Riddell Rd, was rezoned for more intensive two-storey terraced housing with no density limits.

The National Business Review's 2016 Rich List, out this week, shows Hart remains the richest man in New Zealand, but his wealth fell from $9b to $7b amid concerns over some of his debt-heavy business.

His sprawling 2ha property in Glendowie is among the city's elite addresses. The land was last valued at $23m and improvements at $8m.

Graeme Hart's home is among a small number of clifftop houses on Riddell Rd that kept their traditional single house status. Photo / File
Graeme Hart's home is among a small number of clifftop houses on Riddell Rd that kept their traditional single house status. Photo / File

In 2013, the Herald reported that Hart had completed a huge new three-level banquet hall with a domed glass atrium and its own swimming pool and wine cellar, set in a large flat area overlooking the Hauraki Gulf.

The stately new Italian-styled development, featuring grand chandeliers, matches the design of the 878sq m mansion.

He and wife Robyn bought the land in 1995 for $2m and built the house over a number of years.

A nearby resident in Karaka Park Place was curious how the house of the richlister, which had single house status in the 2013 proposed Unitary Plan along with most of Glendowie, had not been rezoned.

"It seems to me that either the whole neighbourhood should be mixed suburban or those currently single house zone should remain as such," said the resident, who did not want to be named.

The resident, whose home has been rezoned, said the justification for Hart's home being exempt from higher density housing could not be about views because then all the people with views would have stayed single house.

Robert Johnston, of the St Heliers-Glendowie Residents' Association, said he did not know why the Hart mansion and other properties were excluded from blanket rezoning in Glendowie.

He said he could understand why the Karaka Beach houses would be excluded because of restricted road access and thought the steep contour of properties at the northern end of Riddell Rd could be a factor.

Hart's property was not on steep land though, Johnston said.

An independent hearings panel has recommended the zoning changes in Glendowie to the council, which will make final decisions next month. The panel and the council are not commenting on the recommendations until then.

The Weekend Herald was unable to find an explanation from the panel in the documents on the new rulebook, formally known as the Unitary Plan.

- NZ Herald

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