Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

$40,000 neighbours' row over Mt Eden property

Trio spend up large in battle with council over its approval for couple to ignore rules in expanding their home

Faire opposed his neighbours' plan to add a single-storey extension, double carport and pool. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Faire opposed his neighbours' plan to add a single-storey extension, double carport and pool. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Three residents spent an estimated $40,000 fighting a neighbour's house extension approved by Auckland Council without notification.

Officials signed off the extension to Matt and Nikki Willis' Mt Eden villa, despite it infringing building heights and other rules.

Simon Faire on one side of the Willis home and Peter Nobbs and Paula Beck on the other teamed up to oppose the plans - eventually going to the High Court.

Mr Faire said the extension was to be "right beside" his deck, resulting in a lack of privacy and obstructed views.

"It was goodbye to views and gardens and hello to block walls, cheap roofing materials and views of them eating dinner at their dining table, through the high windows."

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The Willises wanted to build a single-storey extension at the back of the three-bedroom home in Pentland Ave they bought in May last year.

They also wanted to add a double carport and swimming pool, landscape the site and make alterations inside.

The home was valued at $850,000 in 2011, the latest valuation available.

Mr Faire said he found out about the consent application by chance. He wrote to the council outlining his objections but the consent was granted.

Eventually, Mr Faire, Mr Nobbs and Ms Beck took the matter to court, spending an estimated $40,000.

Mediation was suggested, but the Willises told their neighbours they would substitute the original for a slightly scaled-down version.

"We've made minor tweaks to get a completely compliant result," said Mr Willis.

"We've taken away the carport, which as you can imagine was a reasonable chunk of the issue."

Mr Faire said the revised plan was 2 metres further from his house than the original version.

"All of the new proposal fits within the development controls so the council approved it without fuss, while doing a careful job of ticking the right boxes in their report and decision."

Mr Faire said the legal fight was expensive and time-consuming.

"I would probably advise people to try to stop themselves taking this path. It is all very complex.

"The judicial review avenue is the only option sometimes, but a narrow one. The chances of the success hoped for are lowish. The cost is high, in time, money and stress."

Auckland Council said the original proposal infringed a number of building rules. But a spokesman told the Herald that it was not out of the ordinary and of a similar size to many extensions throughout the city.

"The neighbour, Mr Faire, was unhappy with the proposed additions and lodged proceedings in the High Court, to challenge the non-notification of the resource consent,"a spokesman said.

"The consent holder, rather than defend the decision in court and wanting to commence works, chose to redesign the proposal and obtained a new non-notified resource consent and surrendered the consent subject to challenge. Mr Faire subsequently withdrew his challenge to the decision."

The council notifies only around 2 per cent of consents annually, the spokesman said.


The rules

Applications for resource consent to Auckland Council fall into three broad categories:

Allowed

• No breaches of district plan

Discretionary
• Council uses discretion to decide on effects, can allow applications through non-notified

Prohibited
• Applications do not comply with district plan

- NZ Herald

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