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Council wins challenge over coastal land

Council wins challenge over coastal land

North Shore City Council has won its challenge to the Department of Conservation ' s (DOC) decision to limit the amount of land available for public access, enjoyment and use along the foreshore by the Bayswater Marina.

The council sought a judicial review of the DOC decision to reduce the marginal strip, which is the land around the coastal edge that remains in Crown ownership for use by the public, to nine metres. The council had requested that the Crown retain at least 15 metres for public use. Bayswater Marina Limited (BML), the company DOC has agreed to lease the marina land to, had asked for the strip to be significantly reduced to between 3.6 and 9.7 metres.

The Minister of Conservation is obliged by law to set aside a marginal strip upon the sale or disposition of Crown land in coastal locations of 20 metres, and may only approve a reduced strip if public value, now and in the future, as defined in the Conservation Act is not reduced.

In a High Court decision by Justice Randerson released today, the DOC decision has been set aside and the Minister of Conservation has been directed to reconsider the decision. The judgement states that DOC made serious errors of law. It says that the evidence clearly shows that the marginal strip is a matter of strong public interest and that DOC failed to apply the test correctly to justify a reduction from 20 metres.

Mayor of North Shore City, George Wood, says the decision in favour of the council is a victory for the community. " I see this as a great decision for community spirit and demonstrates how concerns about the rights of residents can be heard and acted upon, " says Mayor Wood.

" We won our battle with DOC for the Devonport HMNZS Tamaki land to remain in reserve and not be sold by the previous government and now we have won another, " he says.

" This strongly vindicates our desire to stand up to the Government for what we believe is right for our city and the need to challenge unfair decisions. This is an important coastal area and the community ' s interest had not been properly protected by the decision. It is concerning that we are having to go to the expense of legally challenging the Government on its decisions, " says Mayor Wood.

George Wood praised council officers and the city ' s legal team for the work they had put into the case.

" We had the public interest at heart in initiating this judicial review. This land has high recreational value and must be retained in public ownership and control. The DOC decision was indefensible and we have proven that, " he says.

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