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State housing riles Travis Country residents

cashflow_smallA "state housing prefab unit" that arrived in an upmarket Christchurch neighbourhood overnight has residents considering legal action.

The relocated house was delivered to an empty section in the Travis Country Estate in Burwood one night last week, to the surprise of many residents.

It sits on the site propped up on struts and may be joined by a second house. The Christchurch City Council granted resource consent for two.

Residents immediately took issue with the new arrival, believing it breached council consenting processes and a covenant on the area that prohibited "any dwelling house other than a new house".

"My wife and I . . . when we bought in that subdivision we sacrificed a lot," neighbour Richie Parker said.

"We knew what covenants were in place and we went without a lot of things . . . when we built.

"To now see them be basically ignored by whoever's bought it and the council and to have what I would consider almost a state housing prefab unit turn up next door is not flash."

Parker said he had "nothing against" the owner but was "extremely disappointed with council processes".

"If they bought it for the purpose of them living there for the next 10 years and they're going to be great neighbours . . . fantastic. My concerns are if they buy it and it becomes a rental. It also sets a very dangerous precedent for any subdivision."

The house differs markedly from the newer, larger ones already on the street. Many Travis Country properties are valued at between $500,000 and $1 million.


Resource consent applications for the two houses were not notified – a key grievance of residents, who believed they should have been consulted.

Council resource consents unit manager John Higgins said planning provisions were to ensure the houses were "repaired to a good standard, rather than controlling the location".

"The specific provision [in the city plan] also says that the application be processed without consultation (i.e. no written approvals or notification)."

An enforcement officer would visit the site on Wednesday to see if the houses required building consent for their foundations, Higgins said.

Travis Country residents have written and petitioned the council over the house, determined to stymie the process. One resident said legal action was being considered.

Property lawyer Tim Barclay said a covenant was a private contract between landowners, not the domain of a consenting authority.

If a house contravened a covenant neighbours could seek a court order to have it removed or seek damages for loss of value, he said.

"If it's clearly in breach of the covenant they'd be ill advised to have stuck it on there in the first place."

The owner of the property did not respond to requests for comment.


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