Nathan and Kelly Sargent on the foundations of their new building at 386 High St South, Carterton. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Sargent Motorcycles can get on and build at their new site in Carterton after winning a building consent hearing in November last year.

The deadline for appeals against the decision passed this week, and there were none.

But the costs to regain consent have set them back hundreds of thousands of dollars and soaked up a whole year.

Although Nathan and Kelly Sargent can now build as planned, they said they weren’t excited because at every step of the process they’d been knocked back because of what they say are council errors.

“We hope nobody else has to experience this,” Kelly said. “God help anyone that has to go through this.”

Carterton District Council asked Sargent Motorcycles to surrender the consent it granted in January 2019 because of uncertainty and complexity about the existing use rights status of aspects of the activity that had been granted consent.

The company did this in July and reapplied.

This application was notified to neighbours and two of them lodged objections.

At the consent hearing, commissioner Mark St Clair decided in favour of Sargent Motorcycles and this decision was not appealed.

Kelly Sargent said she had to ring the council to ask if anyone had appealed the consent hearing decision in their favour – “and even then were told that it was not due that day”.

“I had to say no, it is today, and it was.

“Every step of the way it has been a struggle and a series of errors.”

She said being able to start building was a light at the end of the tunnel, but the battle was not over yet.

According to the Sargents and neighbouring landowners Bosaap Limited, all neighbours should have been informed about the building application from the beginning and been able to object at that stage.

“The council needs to admit it did not do due diligence and made this mistake, if the building was lower, the impact of course is less and could’ve been mitigated,” Jacob Aperloo of Bosaap Limited said.

At one stage, the Sargents pulled down part of their construction and lowered the roof frame to appease a neighbour and the council, but in the end felt they had to buy the adjacent property from the 22-year-old neighbour.

The Sargents will meet council chief executive Jane Davis on Tuesday to discuss the legal fees they incurred because of alleged council errors, and the extra insurance they had to pay because of the delays.

Last year the Sargents gained community support for their business development plans and said they were very grateful for it.

More than 100 supporters attended the resource consent hearing at Carterton’s Old Courthouse on November 26.

They also praised their staff for coping with the uncertainty and upheaval.

“We are looking forward to moving to safe premises with parking for our customers rather than where we are in a busy and unsafe part of town,” Sargent said.

To mitigate the street appeal impact of the new building, the Sargents would plant fast-growing native trees that would grow to more than 7m high and screen the building.