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Appeal granted against Discount Brands

September 21, 2004

Supreme Court Leave to Appeal granted against Discount Brands

Westfield New Zealand and Mainstreet Northcote have decided to proceed with Supreme Court action to overturn the Court of Appeal decision in the Discount Brands saga.

The action proceeds with the knowledge that Discount Brands has filed a new application for resource consent for its proposed discount retail centre on Auckland's North Shore.

Westfield and Northcote Mainstreet have previously successfully taken proceedings in the High Court in an endeavour to overturn the resource consent granted by North Shore City Council. That decision was overturned on appeal.

Today Westfield and Northcote Mainstreet have obtained leave to appeal from the Supreme Court.

Northcote Mainstreet spokesperson Dean Wilson says the appellants welcome the decision by Discount Brands to file a new application for resource consent.

"Hopefully this means we can now be provided with the opportunity to debate the impact of this development in an open forum, something that was not afforded the local community under the application now before the Supreme Court.

"We look forward to this second application following the due process of notification so that the impacts - which we do not consider to be minor - can be properly debated.

"The original decision was and is akin to a homeowner not being able to comment on the usage of a neighbour's property being changed to that of a workshop."

The second issue for Westfield and Northcote Mainstreet is that the use of the property for retailing purposes is contrary to the North Shore Council's centre based policy, Mr Wilson says.

"North Shore Council spent two years in consultation with the residents of the North Shore on the Centres based policy and this was approved by all North Shore residents. In Westfield and Northcote Mainstreet's opinion, retail activities on this site breach this policy.

"We would welcome these activities on an appropriately-zoned site that enhances the centres-based activities and orderly urban growth," Mr Wilson says.

Westfield NZ Director John Widdup says: "This is not a matter of trade competition, but a matter of all retailers being able to trade on a level playing field and to a consistent set of rules.

"Between Northcote Mainstreet and Westfield we represent 290 businesses, some 2,500 jobs and have invested more than $120 Million in the North Shore retail sector. It is important to us that Discount Brands complies with the same legal processes that our operations have had to meet.

"Westfield is in the business of growing a strong and successful retail community. This sector of the economy is vital to us and we are determined to see that agreed town planning rules are consistently applied to all operators.

"With this in mind it concerns us that a set of circumstances might arise on the North Shore whereby a group of retailers will potentially face closure if Discount Brands is later forced to close.

"We believe the consent is not legal, we believe it is contrary to the rules put in place for orderly town planning, hence our decision to proceed with leave to appeal the council's original decision.

"Proper planning is a city's superannuation. It ensures our grandchildren inherit sustainable growth and orderly planning with less traffic congestion, shorter journeys to work, more efficient use of public transport, less greenhouse gas emissions and a more efficient roll out of infrastructure.

"The long term economic cost of unplanned urban sprawl is heavy. Auckland is playing catch up and we don't need to complicate matters further," said Mr Widdup.

Now that leave to appeal is granted, it will be the first case involving the Resource Management Act to be considered by New Zealand's newest and highest court.

ENDS

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