Justice Kit Toogood ruled in the Auckland High Court on Monday that a church trust doesn’t have to publicly notify its proposed removal of a Pt Chevalier villa.
Auckland Council’s hearings committee had decided by a majority that the resource consent application by the Associated Churches of Christ Church Extension & Property Trust Board to remove the Old Homestead at 92 Pt Chevalier Rd should be notified because it would have a more than minor adverse effect on the environment.
The late Victorian villa was said to be one of only 2 houses constructed before 1900 which remained in Pt Chevalier. The trust board decided it was so badly run down that it was no longer fit for its intended use and that renovation wasn’t an economic prospect.
The board wants to replace it with a new building having the same footprint & exterior appearance.
Justice Toogood found after a judicial review hearing the requirement to notify the removal was unreasonable. He said there was no reasonable basis on which the council could have concluded that removal of the building would have a more than minor adverse effect on the environment, so as to engage section 95A(2)(a) of the Resource Management Act and require notification, and there was no evidence the committee asked itself the essential question, whether notification would be likely to result in the council receiving further information relevant to the issues for determination on the substantive application to remove the building.
He said public notification of the application was unlikely to produce any significant additional material on the issue of the age & heritage status of the building, or on any of the other issues relevant to the resource consent decision.
Justice Toogood said the committee’s decision to require notification was also contrary to one of the purposes of the 2009 amendments to the notification regime, which was to increase efficiency in the consent process.
The judge decided not to send the application back to the council for further consideration because it would inevitably reach the same conclusion he did if it considered the question on a proper basis, and he ordered the council to process the application forthwith on a non-notified basis.