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Aesthetic lobby group the victor in first round of AMP Tower court battle

By Campbell McIlroy

Friday 22nd September 2000

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THE TOWER: An artist's impression
A group of Auckland architects and concerned citizens has cleared the first hurdle in its bid to stop AMP Asset Management's proposed waterfront office tower.

An attempt to have the Society for the Protection of Auckland City and Waterfront's proceedings struck out has been dismissed by Justice David Morris in the High Court at Auckland.

Spacwi wants the High Court to review the tower's resource consents.

Counsel for Spacwi Geoff Hardy said this was the bigger hurdle to overcome as his client thought it had pretty good grounds for a judicial review.

Justice Morris said Spacwi's interest went beyond selfish concerns and raised issues which were of genuine importance to the public.

He said striking out the application would carry the real risk a wrongful act on the part of the city council would stand uncorrected.

The decision comes three weeks after Ampam made a seven-figure out-of-court settlement with No 1 Queen St, which also sought a judicial review of the tower's resource consents.

Ampam head of property Anthony Beverley said the decision was significant, not only for Ampam but the entire property industry, as the courts had recognised an incorporated society which did not exist until nine months after consents were granted. He was also concerned the society had been ordered to pay only $15,000 for security for costs. Ampam had asked for $70,000 and expected the case would cost up to $300,000.

Ampam was yesterday considering whether to appeal the decision.

Ampam has allowed for a contingency of $10 million against any possible delays. It has already spent $18 million on the settlement of the land and $10 million on the work carried out so far.

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