A couple who spent $400,000 restoring a category one historic
inner-city home have found themselves left with part of the
property landlocked by a lack of access.
The couple say they are blocked by a covenant and Dunedin
City Council rules from developing or selling the land.
Eve and John Jackson restored the Basil Hooper-designed
Ritchie House in Heriot Row, before selling it to St Hilda's
Collegiate School last year.
Now, they want to fell a protected tree on what was part of
the garden, a subdivided section they say St Hilda's did not
Removing the tree would create a building area for a
prospective buyer where it did not affect surrounding houses.
Despite a ''long-standing attachment'' to the site, they have
attracted opposition from neighbours and other opponents who
made submissions at a resource consent hearing yesterday.
''Catch 22, it's called,'' Mrs Jackson said.
The scheduled maple tree is more than 80 - and perhaps 100 -
It is listed as significant on the council's schedule of
trees, which means it cannot be removed without resource
Recent public notification of the consent application
attracted 11 submissions, 10 of them opposing the tree's
Council staff have also recommended the hearings committee
considering the application reject it, because the tree is
healthy and a prominent feature of the area.
The committee hearing the issue was chairman Crs David
Benson-Pope, Lee Vandervis and Aaron Hawkins.
Mrs Jackson told them the couple's ''small family business'',
Drysdale Ltd, bought 26 and 28A Heriot Row in 2003.
Both were in a ''very rundown condition''.
The house was restored inside and out, and sold to St Hilda's
The committee heard the school was the only buyer found for
the $1.5 million home, but it did not want 28A.
The couple planned to auction the property, but neighbours
told them they had taken steps to register the garage on the
property as a historic place, and the auction was cancelled.
A covenant meant any building on the rear boundary could be
no higher then 3m, and heritage precinct rules required
buildings to have pitched roofs.
For those reasons, the couple wanted to allow building at the
front of the property, but the tree was in the way.
Mrs Jackson said the couple did not want to build, but to
sell the land and realise its market value.
They had been forced into a situation where they had to pay
gardening bills and rates for an empty property valued at
At the hearing, council planner Sophie Lord said she
maintained her view the consent should be declined.
In a submission, Peter Robb said the maple was rare at the
time it was planted, and while he understood the Jacksons'
problem, he wanted the tree to be saved.
Dunedin heritage advocate Ann Barsby said in her submission
the work of Basil Hooper was ''a national treasure''.
''The garden gives the space for the house to be seen in its
full glory,'' she said.
Mrs Jackson said she supported ''completely'' Mrs Barsby's
right to oppose the consent. But the couple did not want to
bear the cost of owning the garden ''for the enjoyment of
others at our expense''.
Cr Benson-Pope said the committee would visit the site and
get information on the tree's lifespan before its decision.