Cafe carpark clash starts to get nasty

Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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A neighbourhood battle over space is turning nasty, with a cafe owner claiming his carpark was maliciously occupied by the local community association.

Darryl Ellis, who owns cafe Ground Up in the suburb, in Porirua, said he was being bullied by "local hillbillies" who on Saturday deliberately clogged up the cafe's off-street carparks with haphazardly-parked vehicles, including a horse float and a digger.

Ellis said the friction began after the disputes tribunal ruled the neighbouring general store - owned by common landlord Albert Ng - was not entitled to off-street carparks behind the cafe.

Since the ruling, Ellis said the store managers have incited locals against him. Store manager Gita Patel would not comment and referred The Dominion Post to outgoing Pauatahanui Residents Association (PRA) member Alan Gray, who also declined to comment.

He referred all questions to the association's new chairman Ken McAdam, who did not respond to calls.

Ellis believed the ill-feeling was down to "tall poppy syndrome" and some residents resenting the cafe's success and expansion in the past six years.

"It's become a destination and we're being blamed for congestion," Ellis said.

The small block of shops has been hotly contested in the village amid Ellis' proposal to expand the cafe precinct into a boutique retail zone featuring galleries, fashion and gift stores.

Ellis was also seeking retrospective consent to fix the cafe's courtyard, making room for 30 more customers in the busy cafe, which currently holds 30.

In a submission to Porirua City Council, the association urged it not to approve the retrospective consent which would be "rewarding a deliberate and illegal activity which has adversely affected the Village".

The submission also took aim at the boutique shopping precinct proposal, which the association said would be at odds with the village's scale and character.

The submission accuses Ellis of threatening the neighbouring Trading Post and General Store with early eviction "presumably for his plans to proceed" with the development.

Ng had applied for a High Court order, to be heard next month, to evict the Patels from the General Store site.

This is a move the association says is designed to allow the cafe to expand.

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- The Dominion Post


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