Auckland Council has been ordered to "deal with the law accordingly" after failing to notify Herne Bay residents of plans to build a James Bond-style helipad, a judge has ruled.
Rich-lister Rod Duke successfully gained resource consent to establish a helipad in New Zealand's most expensive suburb in August last year - but it was granted without notifying the public, which caused uproar among nearby residents.
The helipad was part of the managing director of the Briscoe Group's multi-million dollar home on two adjoining clifftops - and right next to a public beach.
When Kawau Island Action Incorporated Society chairman Andy Coleman got wind of the debate he launched a lawsuit against Auckland Council and Duke to get the resource consent revoked.
Duke opposed the judicial review and the council abided, but yesterday High Court justice Christine Gordon ruled that the council would need to reconsider the consent and "deal with the law accordingly".
"Given my conclusion that the notification decision is flawed and invalid, it must follow that the consent decision is also deficient and cannot stand," the High Court judge said in the decision report the Herald obtained.
Justice Gordon said before considering whether or not the Dukes' consent should be granted, the public should be considered.
Paul Cavanagh, a retired QC and member of the Herne Bay Residents Association, told the Herald in August the issue had raised an enormous furore in the local community.
"What rights do private individuals have to aggregate to themselves public beaches? They have got no such right. It is outrageous," Cavanagh said.
He believed the council had badly handled the issue and now had the opportunity to put it right by assessing the effect of developing a public beach for private use.
Coleman previously told the Herald he had nothing against Duke or Briscoes, but it was unacceptable to put a helipad on a public beach.
"We are fighting this because our objective is to stop unwarranted development around the foreshore."
Duke, worth $750 million in last year's NBR rich list, was granted the consent on the condition of limiting use to three flights a week from the structure after earlier applying for six flights.
The consent also stated the helipad could only be used between the hours of 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 7pm at weekends and on public holidays.
The work includes renovating an old boat shed on Sentinel Beach with a roof that folds back just as a chopper is about to land.