Wellington residents group to pay costs for Houghton Bay subdivision case
A Wellington residents group that fought a Houghton Valley subdivision has been ordered to pay nearly $37,000 costs to the developer.
Friends of Houghton Valley still owed $25,000 to its own lawyer and would continue fundraising to pay the costs the High Court has ordered, spokesman Coral Hyam said.
"We are obviously very, very disappointed and feel like the community has been really shafted," she said of the costs order.
The group lost its case against Wellington City Council and developer Kaikoura View Ltd.
Kaikoura View spokesman Smith Geursen said the company thought people would applaud its plan for fewer houses than was allowed on the site, with planting specified by an ecologist and designs registered with the Green Building Council.
"This is a great development and New Zealand needs more like it," Geursen said.
As at July 2015, the court was told Kaikoura View had invested $800,000 in the project and costs were mounting at $1330 a week while the case dragged on.
It has consent to build 13 houses on 0.52ha. The sections are on the market and the company hoped to start building the first house soon.
Friends of Houghton Valley had to pay $10,000 earlier in the proceedings, as security against the possibility that it lost and was ordered to pay costs.
That money should now go to Kaikoura View towards the $36,672 the residents group had to pay, Justice Brendan Brown said.
Friends of Houghton Valley has previously said its own costs were about $40,000.
Wellington City Council, also sued by residents, did not seek a contribution towards its "five-figure" costs.
Kaikoura View spent $49,643.76 defending the claim.
A contribution towards its costs would normally be $31,889 for that type of case, but it asked for an increased award for reasons that included the steps it had taken trying to avoid the court case.
Kaikoura View had offered to make a payment to a local environment group and not to seek costs against Friends of Houghton Valley if it withdrew its claim.
Friends of Houghton Valley said it should pay no more than $2240 for reasons including that it said the case was brought in the public interest. The judge made some allowance for the group having succeeded on two preliminary issues in the case.
Friends of Houghton Valley was a society incorporated to protect against costs orders being made against individuals, and was funded by membership fees and donations.
It had a Givealittle page to receive donations and planned more fundraising events.