CBD project case to be heard today

Should amendments to the resource consent for the new Invercargill mall development been publicly notified?

This is the decision Justice David Gendall will have to make after a hearing in the Christchurch High Court today.

Key players HWCP Management Ltd, the Invercargill City Council (ICC) and Gaire Thompson, all represented by counsel, will have the opportunity to put their cases to Justice Gendall.

High Court documentation received by the Otago Daily Times says Mr Thompson applied on December 27 for an order to prohibit HWCP from undertaking demolition work of the city block that takes in buildings on Dee, Tay, Kelvin and Esk Sts, until a judicial review was heard.

"Mr Lewis [Gaire] Thompson has applied to judicially review decisions of the Invercargill City Council not to notify an application by HWCP Management Ltd to vary the conditions of resource consents for the demolition, alteration and redevelopment of a block of the Invercargill central business district," the document says.

On December 31, after a teleconference the previous day, Justice Mander confirmed a hearing would take place.

This has meant demolition, which was due to start on January 6, was on hold.

An ICC report relating to the HWCP resource consent application says consent was initially granted by the hearings panel (three commisioners) on June 4.

HWCP then applied to amend various conditions and the current version of the application was submitted on November 1 last year.

These amendments were then approved without public notification.

The variations to the original consent take in various areas, including pedestrian access.

One of the major alterations is the change to condition 19 which originally stipulated demolition could not occur until HWCP had provided the council with written confirmation from a registered trading bank it had funding for stages 1 to 3 of the development.

The amendment now says HWCP could not undertake demolition before "Providing the council with written documentation of its commitment to develop stages 1 to 3 as identified on the Staging Plan approved in condition 1 and commence construction of stages 1 to 3 within 9 months of demolition".

Last month, ICC chief executive Clare Hadley said council decided, after taking specialist advice, not to publicly notify the amendments.

Mr Thompson is the landlord of Farmers which trades in a building in Dee St.

The department store was announced as an anchor tenant of the new mall last year.

Mr Tompson has previously said his current legal action was based on concerns from ratepayers.

 - Karen Pasco

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