Sale of lakeside retreat ordered

Louise Petherbridge.
Louise Petherbridge.
A Dunedin theatre veteran considers herself a victim of the Wakatipu's rampant development.

''I definitely do [feel that],'' Louise Petherbridge said.

Mountain Scene approached Mrs Petherbridge for comment after she lost a recent High Court battle over the Lake Hayes retreat she has enjoyed for 30 years.

''I need it for my work,'' Mrs Petherbridge said of her 40sq m unit at the former Lake Hayes Motel.

''I go there for the quiet - it's a wonderful spot.

'' I have all-day sun, direct access to the lake and a panoramic view of Lake Hayes.''

Lake Hayes is the prime spot locally, she said. Mrs Petherbridge doubted she would find a replacement place as good as her present holiday getaway.

She confessed to being ''absolutely'' disappointed at losing in court to an investment company owned by South Island motor vehicle magnate Ken Cummings and Dunedin businessman David Smallbone.

Justice Graham Panckhurst's verdict dissolves the nine-unit body corporate at the old motel.

The Cummings-Smallbone company owns all the units except Mrs Petherbridge's studio.

''The body corporate has been effectively defunct for 30 years and the [1960s] motel units are past their economic lifetime,'' Justice Panckhurst ruled.

''The site requires redevelopment.''

In evidence, Mrs Petherbridge agreed she could not recall any body corporate meetings since her parents bought her unit in 1983.

The verdict orders Mrs Petherbridge to accept what the judge called ''a good offer'' from the Cummings-Smallbone company.

The Dunedin businessmen will pay her $274,500 - 25% over market value - and if they sell the prime 3055sq m site inside a year, she will also receive 9.15% of anything over $3 million.

However, Justice Panckhurst displayed some sympathy for Mrs Petherbridge's plight.

''Imposing an order which defeats the property rights of a co-owner should not be done lightly,'' he said.

''It's a step of last resort.''

The judge also found the parties were deadlocked.

''The only commercially sensible course is to offer the whole property for sale as a redevelopment proposition.''

The Cummings-Smallbone company ended up with eight units after advancing a second mortgage to an earlier owner for redevelopment.

When that owner defaulted in 2009, Mr Cummings and Mr Smallbone reluctantly bought the eight units to protect their mortgage money.

They also inherited what the judge called ''a development agreement''.

However, their company and Mrs Petherbridge could not reach agreement over a replacement apartment for her.

Despite the court defeat, Mrs Petherbridge has no animosity towards the other owners - they were simply caught by the global financial crisis, she said.

Mr Cummings said his co-owned company ''will be abiding by the judge's decision'' but was not ''currently in a position to discuss the future of the property''.

As an actor, director and producer, Mrs Petherbridge has been active in Dunedin's Globe and Fortune theatres since the 1970s.

- Frank Marvini

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