Three-level Christchurch house plan rejected over neighbour shade concerns

A Christchurch family who spent over $80,000 planning a dream home are gutted at being refused permission to build it, leaving little room to appeal.

Laura Jones and Matthew Beaven, a nephew of renowned Christchurch architect the late Peter Beaven, hoped to build a three-level house at the back of the steep Lyttelton section behind their quake-damaged existing home.

Council-appointed commissioner David Mountfort found the house would shade neighbouring homes, loom over them and affect their views.

Renders of the planned home Matthew Beavan and his family wanted to build on the rear of their Lyttelton property. Their resource consent was declined by a commissioner despite council staff recommending it be granted.
SUPPLIED
Renders of the planned home Matthew Beavan and his family wanted to build on the rear of their Lyttelton property. Their resource consent was declined by a commissioner despite council staff recommending it be granted.

Council planning staff had recommended granting consent, saying Beaven's design would only cause slightly more shade than one meeting height and boundary setback rules.

Beaven said it would have been a dream home for them and their teenage children, but the resource consent process had been demoralising. They have laid a complaint about Mountfort's handling of their application.

The proposed build site, centre.

CHRIS SKELTON/STUFF
The proposed build site, centre.

The couple had spent almost $84,000 on architects, planners, geotechnical reports, and consent fees, he said. The three-level house with decks and harbour views had a 171sqm footprint.

Changes to the Resource Management Act in 2017 mean the couple cannot appeal the decision. Their only recourse is to launch a full judicial review.

Mountfort declined to comment.

Beaven and Jones' application is the only one declined by commissioners from 118 Christchurch resource consents decisions for new homes in the past year. Of a further nine decided by a hearings panel, two were declined. Council staff granted a further 685 in that time, declining none. Only complex applications go to a commissioner or panel.

Mountfort was on the panel that recently declined consent for a seven-unit development in Spreydon, against council staff recommendations. Another planner said that decision had raised eyebrows among planners.

The Lyttelton application, lodged last year, was for a discretionary activity involving nine breaches of the district plan including building height, minimum distance to boundary, and daylight recession planes. Council notified immediate neighbours and two made objections.

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