28 Jun 2016

Chch developers in fight over resource consent

8:01 am on 28 June 2016

A group of high profile Christchurch property developers are being accused of undermining confidence in the city's rebuild.


Artist's impression of Richard Peebles' $50m retail and office development for High St, Christchurch Photo: SUPPLIED

The developers are seeking a judicial review of the resource consent for Richard Peebles' $50m office and retail development in the Innovation Precinct, claiming it includes more retail space than is permitted by the government's blueprint.

The side taking the court action includes two of the city's wealthiest developers, Antony Gough and Philip Carter - both major investors in the Retail Precinct - and the man formerly in charge of delivering the government's central city blueprint, Warwick Isaacs.

On the other side is Richard Peebles, who said that, contrary to what is being claimed, he had built less than half the amount of retail space he is allowed to.

"This sort of stuff is not good for the rebuild.

"We're meant to be working together, we should be all progressing forward rather than fighting. It's just a nonsense."

The judicial review was undermining his existing tenants, he said.

"We've got 250 office workers that are meant to be moving in within two months and every day they pick up the paper and read about this judicial review.

"We're every day dealing with our tenants, assuring them we're working within our consent."

He said he would leave it up to others to decide what was motivating the developers' legal action which was being taken by their recently established company, City Centre Christchurch Limited.

"You've got to draw your own conclusions in regards to just when we're nearing completion, you know we've been working on this project for two years...we're 90 percent complete, we're just looking to sign the tenants now and this judicial review comes up by a company that was set up just two days ago."

Antony Gough, the spokesman for developers taking court action, said investors in the Retail Precinct had lost tenants to Mr Peebles and other smaller owners on High Street.

Mr Peebles' latest development is just the first planned for the area and will fragment retail space across the city, Mr Gough said.

"We're wanting to make sure that people actually do stick to the blueprint and Christchurch City Council has the rules to do that.

"We need to know whether they're going to stick to it or whether they're planning to depart and let a free run happen in Christchurch."

Another central city developer, Ernest Duval, had some sympathy for Mr Peebles.

Boutique shops on High Street would complement the retail precinct being developed by the likes of Philip Carter, he said.

"The prime retail area won't really address every retailer's desires and wants.

"There will be a need for smaller peripheral retailing that could be at a lower rental level and you really want that. You don't want a city of corporate type retailers, you want a diversity of retailing at different price points."

The Blueprint, a planning document that carves the city up into various precincts, should be viewed as a living document rather than something carved in stone, he said.

"I'm not suggesting that we depart from the blueprint, but I am suggesting that we start to view it as a document that should be reviewed on a case- by-case basis without upsetting the fundamental principals."

Christchurch City Council declined to comment now that the case is before the courts.

The judicial review will go before the High Court at the end of July.