Auckland Council is dodgier than a 6-day-old chicken curry

Guest Post

It’s widely known that they flout the law and do whatever they want. And it’s also widely known that the Council deliberately work against property developers to screw the scrum where it concerns Resource Consent Applications.

Most of the time property developers grin and bear the pain and get on with things quietly. More often than not, however, they get strong armed by Council holding them to ransom. A consent approval in return for something Council want that will cost a fortune.

Before you say ‘cry me a river’ understand that Council are breaking the law. And the more often they get away with it the more they are likely to do it to you if the opportunity presents itself.

There are limitations on a Council’s power under the RMA. A Council can’t do whatever they want.

Firstly, there is the law (legislation) and then there is the interpretation of the law (case law), which occurs when matters end up in the Court for a ruling. An interpretation of the law by a judge results.

What should happen subsequently is that the all Councils – when dealing with similar issues in the future – should abide by the ruling of the Court as a precedent. The law is set – so follow it.

But they don’t. What Councils do is ignore the law because nobody polices the Councils and they can get away with it. 

I’ve just learned that Auckland Council are right now trying to screw the scrum on a developer and I thought this was a good opportunity to highlight the issue.

Ordinarily, I would stay out of these things but can’t help take a poke at the absolute illegal gorilla tactics of Auckland Council to strong-arm an applicant into building them a free road – despite the case law that stands against them.

In Beachlands there is a marina called Pine Harbour. It was rezoned a few years ago to enable intensification through a private plan change that the developer pursued. In the final provisions (rules) there is a matter for assessment regarding a road connection.

Originally, this road was sought to be in the provisions as requested by the developer ‘if’ they required it. Now they don’t.

But Council want it for a bus route. Through their thug-like CCO Auckland Transport, they have sought to decline the consent unless the developer builds the road: firstly, by notifying the consent to apply pressure and then by recommending decline unless they get what they want – a free road.

But here is the issue….. its entirely illegal for the Council to do it.

That’s because two pieces of case law exist that define what a Council must do with a road.

The first is Reuters vs Wanganui City Council and the second is Waitakere City Council vs Estate Homes Limited. The latter went all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld the Court of Appeal who found against Council.

The outcome of which is that:

1. A council cannot impose conditions that are not unrelated to a proposed development. They must not relate to external or ulterior concerns;

2. A Council cannot rely upon its District Plan to enforce roads to be built. Unless a road is required to mitigate the effects of a proposal (such as traffic);

3. If a road is not required to mitigate the effects of a development, and the Council wants that road – then the Council must buy the land, form the road and construct it at its own expense.

In short, Council must build the road themselves. They can’t strong-arm and muscle their way and force a developer to build it just because they thinks it should.

So, back to the development. Auckland Transport want a bus route. Hence they want a road. There is no evidence on the table that the road is required to disperse traffic. So, the bus route is required for ulterior concerns. What would it cost the developer? Something in the order of $400,000 to $500,000.

So why bother to put this up on WO?

Well, simply put, it’s an excellent example of the trouble that developers go through to get consent and how Auckland Council and their proxies are always playing skulduggery to get what they want.

And because the National Government need to see the extent to which developers are royally screwed by the Council. In stepping in to provide for infrastructure for housing they need to be ‘eyes wide open’ to the fact that this Council are about screwing everyone. Including the Government.

Make no mistake about it, Auckland Council care very little for the law or due process. They just care about what they want.

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