A Lyttelton family spent three years and more than $ 200,000 getting approval to build a new home, but it’s not the dream home they originally planned.
Matthew Beaven and Laura Jones had hoped to live in their new three-story home in Lyttelton at least a year ago. Instead, they are still looking at an empty section.
Approval was finally given in July and the couple are hoping to start construction before Christmas, but now they are facing a huge spike in construction costs.
Beaven, a nephew of renowned Christchurch architect Peter Beaven, reckoned the approval process would take about a year and cost $ 100,000.
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Instead, it took three years to spend four house designs and $ 205,000 on architects, planners, and geotechnical and sun protection reports.
Christchurch City Council-appointed Commissioner David Mountfort rejected the initial approval in 2019. Beaven submitted two drafts during the motion in the hopes that the second, less intrusive, option would be approved. Mountfort declined to agree, stating that the house would shade neighboring homes, tower over them, and influence their views.
The house has been remodeled twice since then and another commissioner gave its approval in July, but the process had a huge financial impact on Beaven and his family.
In addition to the non-budgeted approval costs, the construction costs have also skyrocketed in the last two years.
The house was now to be clad in steel because they could no longer afford the original wood cladding, which would have fitted better with the surroundings.
The couple had planned to keep their existing house at the lower end of the section as a rental apartment, but could no longer afford it.
He was dissatisfied with the decision and filed a formal complaint about Mountfort’s behavior with the Ministry of the Environment in 2019. The ministry referred the matter to the council.
The council’s resource chief agrees John Higgins said a senior official looked into the complaint and “no concerns were raised”.
The council recently conducted an independent review of decision-making, including a number of assent decisions from Mountfort, Higgins said, and no material errors were found in those decisions.
The audit included random decisions and did not include Beaven’s property in Lyttelton, Higgins said.
The council has received another complaint about Mountfort, Higgins said, which is still in progress.
It is not uncommon for both applicants and neighbors to raise concerns about the commissioners’ decisions, he said.
“We are reviewing, as we have done in this case, and if there is enough evidence of serious concern we will consider options to address it.”
Mountfort was approached by Things however, declined to comment.
Beaven sought legal advice on further possible measures.
Beaven could not appeal the 2019 decision to the environmental court as the law did not allow this at the time.
After this decision and on the recommendation of the council, Beaven had the house redesigned and another application submitted. This time it was approved, but by a different commissioner.
Beaven never planned to build this house, the goal was to get “an allowable baseline” to prove that a house could be built. A fourth draft, closer to the original plan, was then submitted and approved by Commissioner Graham Taylor in July.
The final design was one by Beaven he was happy with, but it wasn’t as “special” as her original dream home.
The house was moved ten feet down the hill, which meant more steps to reach that Beaven wanted to avoid. The roof was different and the outside decks were smaller to reduce shading on the neighboring property.