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Court favours developers in Browns Bay

Court favours developers in Browns Bay building height dispute

The Environment Court has ruled in favour of developers in the long running Browns Bay height restriction saga much to the disappointment of the East Coast Bays Community Board and its local community.

Community concern about building heights close to the popular Browns Bay beachfront led North Shore City Council to notify a variation to its then proposed District Plan in September 1998. This sought to reduce the height limit in this business-zoned (Business 2) land from 15 to 12 metres in some areas and nine in others. After the formal submission and public hearing process, the council decided to reduce the height limit to nine metres across the area.

Five appeals were lodged opposing the decision and seeking the reinstatement of the 15 metre height limit. The matter was finally brought before the Environment Court earlier this year.

The Court's decision, which was released in May, includes a 12.5 metre height limit for the Browns Bay business-zoned land. This allows developers to apply for buildings up to 15 metres in most areas to the west of Clyde Road (i.e. those areas furthest from the beach). Applications for buildings above 12.5 metres close to the beach are non-complying. The Court also eased the restrictions on the height of parts of buildings near the beachfront lane which was an additional control the council had introduced to further reduce the impact of buildings on the beachfront area.

North Shore City's regulatory and hearings committee chairperson and one of the five commissioners who sat on the hearings panel, Gary Holmes, is disappointed with the Court's ruling.

"We received over 850 submissions to our original variation of which about 770 supported it or proposed more restrictive height limits," he says.

Councillor Holmes, who has represented the East Coast Bays community since 1995, says that as a result of the Court decision the council will need to carefully consider applications for new buildings to ensure they are well-designed and contribute to the character of Browns Bay.

East Coast Bays Community Board chairperson, Sally Cargill, is equally concerned about the future of Browns Bay.

"I hope developers will be sensitive to our little seaside town and that its character won't change," she says.

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