18 Mar 2015

Donghua Liu set for second council face-off

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Exclusive – Complaint about demolition of wall on development site to be investigated.

Donghua Liu demolished a stone wall and cut down trees allegedly without permission on land where he plans to build an ambitious housing project in Auckland.

The businessman owns nearly 20,000sq m of land in Newmarket and is preparing a resource consent application for a residential apartment development on Alpers Ave to be lodged with city planners.

But the Auckland Council is now investigating Liu after a stone wall on a boundary with a neighbouring property, which is for sale, was destroyed by a digger and a number of trees were also cut down.

Neighbours called the police and the Auckland Council which scrambled staff to stop the demolition on Friday and the land is now roped off with “Danger! Keep Out” tape.

 Donghua Liu set for second council face-off

A spokesman for Auckland Council confirmed a complaint about the earthworks and tree-felling was being investigated because it was “suspected the works were unconsented”.

The destroyed stonewall is on land owned by Liu, but runs alongside 74 Gillies Ave, also known as the “Hounslow” estate, which was built around 1900.

The wall may have heritage value as a “batter” for the neighbouring home. The property is for sale but the London-based owner could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Jeremy Goodwin, the lawyer for Liu’s company Roncon Pacific, said his client was working together with the council and Heritage New Zealand to resolve the problem but declined to comment further.

Heritage New Zealand’s Bev Parslow, acting general manager of the northern office, said the site was secured and staff were waiting for further assessment reports.

Depending on the outcome of the investigation, Liu could be prosecuted by the council for the second time.

He was convicted and fined more than $18,000 in October after admitting breaches of the Building Act and Resource Management Act following a prosecution by Auckland Council.

A digger on the site of a Donghua Liu development

A digger on the site of a Donghua Liu development. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The charges arose from excavation work underneath two properties he owns, including his $4.75 million family home in Remuera and a $3.5 million property in Epsom.

The current investigation comes as Liu prepares to lodge resource consent applications to build his long-promised housing project in Alpers Ave in Newmarket.

The first stage was the refurbished Boulevard Hotel, opened by Prime Minister John Key and former Construction Minister Maurice Williamson ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011. However, there has been no progress on the rest of the 20,000sq m of prime real estate in the heart of Auckland.

“I want to focus on transforming that awful paddock of long grass and weeds that you can see when coming into the city from the Newmarket Viaduct into a first-class residential development,” Liu told the Herald last June. “Auckland needs more housing and this is an ideal place for some quality intensification close to the city.”

A demolished rock wall on the back of Gillies Ave in Epsom. Donghua Liu is developing the Alpers Ave property on the other side.

A demolished rock wall on the back of Gillies Ave in Epsom. Donghua Liu is developing the Alpers Ave property on the other side. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Credits

Published: The New Zealand Herald – 17 March 2015
Written by: Jared Savage
Photos by: Jason Oxenham and Greg Bowker

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One Response to Donghua Liu set for second council face-off
  1. Mr Liu comments “I want to focus on transforming that awful paddock of long grass and weeds that you can see when coming into the city from the Newmarket Viaduct into a first-class residential development,” However before he got hold of it that ‘awful paddock’ was the lovely old Carlton Bowling club which he demolished. Now he adds insult to injury by getting rid of a potentially historic wall and cutting down trees without consent. Auckland may need more housing but it does not need heritage vandals like Mr Liu.

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