Developer spends $30k on consents, only for council panel to reject plans

A Christchurch property developer spent about $30,000 on consent fees to replace a dilapidated villa with units, only for a council panel to reject his plans.

The panel went against the advice of Christchurch City Council planning staff, who recommended the resource consent be given.

James Cooney and a business partner bought the "as is, where is", quake-damaged Spreydon house late last year. It has a rating value of $10,000 (excluding the 800 square metres of land).

They planned to knock the Bolton Ave villa down and build seven units, to be sold for $310,000 to $420,000 each. Each would have one to two bedrooms and all but one would have off-street parking.

The plans were not straightforward. It required several exemptions and failed its first consent application. Eventually council staff recommended resource consent be granted after the plans were changed, saying the effect on the neighbourhood was "less than minor".

But a hearings panel turned it down on the basis the high-density design did not fit the area's character. Cooney has no way to appeal.

"You've got all these experts supporting this, and it gets to the panel and gets declined again, you've got to start asking questions why," he said.

Cooney accepted why his first application was declined; "there were definitely flaws there, and we were pushing the boundaries a little bit".

He hired a planner from Novo Group to refine the design, working through the feedback from the first decision to remedy the issues. His second application had support from council planners, but was also declined.

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