Bid to stop apartment construction dealt blow

Two neighbours fighting the construction of a four-storey apartment block in central Dunedin have been dealt a late blow.

Just days before the Environment Court heard the matter, Judge Jon Jackson excluded the 11th-hour geotechnical evidence regarding the proposed construction at 97 Filleul St, a recently released judgement has revealed.

In April, a Dunedin City Council consent hearings committee of Crs Andrew Noone, Lee Vandervis and Andrew Whiley granted land-use consent for the apartment block to be built.

But the owners of neighbouring Vero House and London Street Specialists at 34 London St, Chris Robertson and Sergio Salis, who operate a dental practice from the ground floor, took their objection to the Environment Court.

Theirs is a neighbouring property uphill of the development site and according to court documents has three retaining walls on the common boundary.

Mr Salis told the ODT the council viewed them as ''being totally obstructive'', which he stressed was not the case.

''We're not against the development as such; it's just how it affects us,'' he said.

Their notice of appeal against the four-storey apartment block outlined concerns about there being only 10 on-site car parks for the 25-room apartment building. The notice also said not enough protections were provided for their neighbouring property, both during construction and once the apartment block was built.

To prove to the court how earthworks would influence their buildings, the appellants made a late application to include evidence from geotechnical engineer James Molloy.

But Judge Jackson ruled out the evidence.

''The court has given a number of directions in this proceeding and has a distinct impression that it is the appellants who have slowed things down more than the other parties,'' he said.

If the evidence had been included it might have been costly for the council and Filleul Apartments JV Ltd and probably would have pushed back the substantive hearing, he said.

As it was, the appeal was heard in Christchurch at the end of November.

Mr Salis said it was ''disappointing'' Mr Molloy's analysis was excluded but he was happy with the how the hearing went.

The evidence heard confirmed his position on the potentially destructive outcome of the earthworks and the ''lightness with which the DCC approached it''.

It was difficult to consider his next move without the Environment Court's judgement, which was expected after January.

''We'd probably consider [further legal action] but again, it's just getting to that step and looking at all the options.''

-By Rob Kidd



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