Thursday, October 1, 2015
Don't fence me in
VIEWS BEFORE AND AFTER
The apartment's government valuation was $1.6 million. That value has been reduced by $900,000 because a neighbor built a fort for his children.
From Dominion Post
A Wellington couple have seen their million-dollar harbour views stripped away after the council signed off on an imposing playground next-door.
Peter and Sylvia Aitchison, who live in an apartment on Roseneath's sought after Maida Vale Rd, accuse the Wellington City Council of failing them in allowing the large wooden structure to be built on their boundary line.
The fort-like structure has completely blocked their view of Wellington Harbour, instead leaving them with a close-up view of wooden planking.
The Aitchisons went to the council when they became aware the owner of the neighbouring property, David Walmsley, planned to build the large wooden play area.
They argued that resource consent was needed but the council disagreed saying the structure met district plan requirements.
The turreted fort went up in a "considerable flurry of activity" and the Aitchisons took their dispute with the council to the Environment Court, court documents show.
They argued before the court that the structure, more than 11m long and up to 4m high, had "walled them in".
It had led to a loss of natural light and direct sun, as well as impacting on their privacy andproperty value.
It also had adverse effects on their health and well-being, they said.
Council City Planning and Design manager Warren Ulusele said while the council understood the impact of the structure on the Aitchisons, it was bound to follow the district plan.
He admitted there was an option for the council to go to the Resource Management Act and ask for resource consent when considering structures that posed significant adverse effects, he said.
This process had a very high threshold and was not an an option taken lightly, Ulusele said.
However, the Environment Court said this was indeed a case for resource consent.
The council had made a mistake when it had decided the boundary between the two properties was at the top of a sloping retaining wall instead of at the bottom.
This impacted the height calculations and position of the structure in relation to building recession planes, the court said.
Instead of the structure's height being 2.5m from ground level on the Walmsley's property, which is permitted, it was 2.5m from the ground level of the Aitchisons' land.
Ulusele said the council would respect the Environment Court ruling, which would have significant impacts on future residential developments on sloping land in Wellington.
The district plan would have to be reviewed in light of the Environment Court's ruling, and structures that would have been approved could be knocked back in future, he said.
Neither the Aitchisons nor Walmsley could be reached for comment.
Another shuddersome thought is the racket of children racing along that boardwalk on the other side of the fence.