In a scathing decision, an Environment Court judge has ordered the Auckland Council and Waiheke’s Cable Bay Vineyards to pay nearly half a million dollars in court costs to a group of the vineyard’s neighbours, who were third parties in a long-running consents dispute.
It is rare for costs to be awarded against councils and other decision-making public bodies in such cases, but Judge Laurie Newhook found the council’s neglect of its duties under the Resource Management Act (RMA) was a significant factor leading to the lengthy and expensive litigation.
For six years Auckland Council and Cable Bay Vineyards have been battling it out in court as the Waiheke business sought a retrospective resource consent for its veranda and outdoor dining area. Cable Bay built a lightweight veranda, with a pizza kitchen bar and seating for guests in 2014, later adding an informal outdoor dining area with bean-bag seating on the lawn to the south of the veranda. None of this was covered by the property’s 2006 consents, and Cable Bay continued to operate without the required building or resource consents for three years before applying for retrospective consent in 2017. The council denied that application, since the changes from what was originally consented had “effects more than minor,” and Cable Bay launched an appeal in the Environment Court. The vineyard’s neighbours joined the case in 2018 as interested parties under the Resource Management Act to oppose Cable Bay getting the consent in a dispute centred around noise levels. Earlier this year in May the Environment Court granted the vineyard consent for its alfresco dining areas under strict conditions, but the legal wrangling didn’t end there, as the neighbours sought compensation for their $825,000 legal bill from the council and Cable Bay. In a decision, obtained by Gulf News, Judge Newhook ordered the vineyard to pay $412,770, and the council to pay $82,554, towards their court costs. • Paul Mitchell
Full story in this week’s Gulf News… Out Now!!!