Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Rich-listers win battle of waterfront

Alan Gibbs. File photo / Dean Purcell
Alan Gibbs. File photo / Dean Purcell

A group of the country's richest businessmen won a court battle over use of their land near Auckland waterfront.

Multimillionaires Trevor Farmer and his son Dean, inventor Alan Gibbs and property developers Mark Wyborn and Ross Green went to the Environment Court, defending property rights.

Last year's NBR Rich List showed the businessmen had a collective fortune of more than $1 billion.

The Art Deco Society (Auckland) took the case against their Viaduct Harbour Holdings, Viaduct Harbour Management, and Tramco Holdings. Auckland Council, Pier 21 Ltd, Westhaven Properties and Sandford were also defendants.

The Farmers, Gibbs, Wyborn and Green are Viaduct Harbour Holdings' directors, owning more than 20ha of waterfront land including the Viaduct Basin, Lighter Quay and parts of Wynyard Quarter, which they in turn lease long-term to building owners.

The court said Viaduct owned land under three Beaumont St blocks including Gloss Boats, known as the former Baileys Shipyard and Devonport Ferry Building and HQ Building, also known as the former Chas Bailey Shipyard.

Those buildings and others were at the centre of the case.

The appellants in the case were originally the society, Auckland Regional Council and old Auckland City Council but after the formation of the new Auckland Council, a decision was taken not to pursue the appeal and that left the society alone as the appellant.

"The principal consequence of such identification is that any proposal to alter, add to, demolish or remove a building is that a restricted discretionary resource consent will be needed," said the court, headed by Judge Laurie Newhook.

The society argued the older buildings were character structures. But the court ruled it did not just have to deal with matters of the past but the future character of Wynyard Quarter.

Viaduct, represented by Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, called landscape architects D J Scott Associates to outline the new character of the changing area, urban planning expert Clinton Bird on the creation of a "much more intensively developed and urban in character than is currently the case" and planning consultant Alan Bradbourne on how the older buildings would become incongruous in time compared to the new buildings.

The court heard how character was not heritage and the two should not be confused.

The court decided the buildings on Viaduct land "failed to meet the cut" and rejected the society's appeal.

- NZ Herald

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