Road closing at South Head Kaipara – Higham Road

In Feb 2010 the Rodney District Council decided to support a local Farmer in the closing of a Paper Road (A Paper road is a legal road that is unformed) . The Council received a large number of objections to the road stopping proposal (164 in all including the Auckland Regional Council ). The road encompassed some 6.2 Ha of land that passed through Mr Highams farm and went to a local beach (Highams beach).

Against the good advice of the Council’s own property officer Mark Johansen the Council decided ‘it new better’ and and decided to endorse the pursue the Road stopping Notice. Due process for road stopping procedure is for objections to be heard in the Environment court and a ruling made as to whether or not the stopping shall be endorsed.

At the Preliminary hearing in Nov 2010 the judge decided that the 2 different departments of the recently formed Auckland Council needed to decide on an ultimate decision of their intention now that in effect Auckland Council were both proposer and objector to the stopping proposal.
Several weeks later the Auckland Council Lawyers as directed by their client Auckland Council came back with a decision to continue the application through the Environment court . They were completely non-plus about the Environment Court Judges suggestion that ‘ the matters of National Importance ‘ (as laid out in Section 6 (d) of the RMA) which he must use to make his decision ‘ were fairly clear and straight forward ‘ . This comment did n’t even draw a lift of an eyebrow from the Auckland Council Lawyers – they were off like a bull at a gate – ‘silly old judge (who was about 10 years younger then me) what would he know !’

Apparently he new a lot , because in September of this year he came out with a ruling that very much put to an end the intended application. The Judges ruling effectively put in motion that for the format of the ‘now, well adjusted application’ to proceed, access was to be maintained to the Public as a whole and impediments (the gates and private toilet block) to be removed.

Unfortunately as is the case with a road stopping application the applicant can withdraw their application at any time . One week ago the applicants played their final trump card and made application to withdraw. At the time of writing, I note that costs are still being considered by the judge .

What did the escapade cost ? If all council staffers are taken in to account plus the Lawyers acting for the Council my estimate would be (conservatively) $ 300,000 – $ 400,000. But wait for it , Council are going to try and get the money back from the applicant (the farmer). Lets hope he provided a Form 5 application complete with address for serivice of invoice etc. and the Council is as vehement in getting the money as it was in pursuing this debacle.

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