Full steam ahead for Shelly Bay as High Court dismisses legal challenge

A legal challenge against $500 million development plans for Shelly Bay in Wellington has been dismissed by the High Court.

But the gloves are not off yet as the group behind the challenge considers its appeal options.

Local interest group Enterprise Miramar Peninsula went to the High Court in Wellington last month to challenge the consents granted for the project.

The Wellington Company and the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST) plan to develop the Miramar Peninsula site with hotels, 350 apartments and townhouses, a rest home, a ferry terminal, a marina and a cable car link to Mt Crawford.

Among the grounds for the legal challenge were alleged conflict of interest and a claimed appearance of bias on the part of Wellington City Council, which owned some of the land at Shelly Bay, across the harbour from central Wellington.

Wellington Company director Ian Cassels says it will be full steam ahead for the development and he is grateful he can now get on with it after a long and frustrating process.

Monday morning’s court decision dismissed the group’s application for a judicial review and decided the council did everything by the book.

Thomas Wutzler from Enterprise Miramar said the High Court decision was long and the group planed to carefully consider it before making any decisions on what action it should take in response to the court’s decision.

It continued to believe the development at Shelly Bay was not what was anticipated by the special housing legislation used to grant the resource consents.

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust chairman Wayne Mulligan is looking forward to working with the community on the development, which he says will be beneficial for all of Wellington.

Wellington Company director Ian Cassels said it would be full steam ahead for the development, which he previously likened to Sausalito in San Francisco Bay.

“I always had confidence in the good sense of the justice system. I am grateful we can now just get on with it. It has been a long and frustrating process.”

The capital was falling behind the rest of the world because there were too many negatives in society holding back developments, he said.

An artist’s impression of a joint venture development at Shelly Bay by the Port Nicholson Block Development Trust and The Wellington Company.

Shelly Bay would be “fantastic” for Wellington, and he already had many expressions of interest from prospective buyers for the development’s dwellings.

“I have no doubt this will be incredibly successful and increase the appeal for Wellington.”

PNBST chairman Wayne Mulligan said it was a “relief” they could now get on with the development.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says the project aims to transform Shelly Bay for the better and has his wholehearted support.

“We see this as a great opportunity for all of Wellington. We believe we will create something very special and I look forward to working with the wider community on progressing this.”

Acting city council chief executive Kane Patena said the decision was a vindication of both the proposed development and of the council’s planning process.

“We were always confident the council had followed good process in terms of its procedures and its interpretation of legislation.”

Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust members, from left, Morrie Love, Wayne Mulligan and Peter Jackson attending a Wellington City Council meeting at which they got the green light to develop Shelly Bay.

The court accepted the council’s decisions were lawful and properly made.

There was no bias in its actions, and the processing of the consent was consistent with what the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act (HASHAA) intended, he said.

The decision also confirmed the council had properly understood the need for sufficient and appropriate infrastructure.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said the development was exciting for Wellington, and the type of project the city needed to be getting on with.

“It’s [Shelly Bay] been in neglect for too many years, and I want it to be a destination for Wellington.

“I’m looking forward to working with local iwi and getting this project under way.”

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