Multimillionaire Briscoes' boss Rod Duke is a step closer to winning his Herne Bay helicopter boat shed battle after Auckland Council signalled its intention to drop its opposition to the beachfront structure.
Stephen Quinn, a DLA Piper lawyer for Auckland Council, issued a memorandum to the Environment Court describing how a resolution has been reached in the case due to be heard next month.
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On November 11, the court was due to hear Duke v Auckland Council. Duke wanted to have the council's decision against his boatshed overturned. But Quinn said the council intended to withdraw its opposition to the structure so the matter would not proceed as planned.
That effectively delivers a victory to Duke over the structure at Sentinel Beach in front of the new home the businessman is having built on the site.
The council issued an abatement notice against the boatshed after the High Court overturned the council's granting of a resource consent for the construction of the new shed, replacing a much smaller one on the same site.
Duke, via his resource management specialist planning barrister Richard Brabant, asked the council to issue a certificate of compliance for the boatshed, the lawyer said.
Brabant said today of the council's likely move to drop opposition: "I'm pleased the process of getting the boatshed rebuilt is hopefully to come to an end and that the abatement proceedings are going to be concluded. It's not clear why the council considered it necessary to issue an abatement notice in February in the first place."
Separately, Brabant plans to make another application in future for helicopter takeoffs and landings at the boatshed. "One step at a time," he said today on the next phase of legal proceedings where Duke hopes to win flight rights.
Brabant's strategy is for Duke to win both battles by separating the legal issues around the boatshed structure from the legal issues around helicopter movements.
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The two issues should be decided separately, he has argued.
Kawau Island Action, which won a High Court case over the boatshed, today reacted strongly to Quinn's memo and news of Duke's imminent victory.
A spokesman said the group was "incredulous and believes the process whereby a certificate of compliance is now being issued after the High Court quashed the consent is unbelievable and unfair.
The group plans to talk to the local residents with a view to challenging the council dropping its opposition to the boatshed, he said.
"The new shed is coloured black down to its steel piles and looks nothing like the old boatshed it replaces and is supposed to closely resemble," the man said today.
Comment has been sought from Duke on the council's proposed backdown.