Brownlee 'stepped outside legal limits'
The High Court has ruled Gerry Brownlee ''stepped outside the legal limits'' of his earthquake powers in rearranging Canterbury housing boundaries.
In the first legal challenge to Brownlee's special powers, his Canterbury land-zoning decisions have been set aside by the High Court.
In a decision released today, Justice Chisholm ordered a judicial review of Brownlee's process.
He also set aside the land-zoning changes Brownlee made.
At a High Court hearing in Christchurch this month, Independent Fisheries, several Canterbury property developers and supermarket giant Progressive sought to overturn Brownlee's post-quake redrawing of housing boundaries.
Justice Chisholm stopped short of giving Brownlee directions for reviewing the development potential of appellants' land, saying the court's jurisdiction was on the scope of Brownlee's powers, not the outcome.
Brownlee used his quake recovery powers unnecessarily and for the wrong purposes, Justice Chisholm said.
Brownlee's actions stepped outside the legal limits of his powers under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority Act, he said.
''Having said that, I accept that the minister acted in good faith.''
Brownlee denied developers access to the courts on the matter - a ''serious error'' that deprived the applicants of a private right, Justice Chisholm said.
It was impossible to see how the amendments Brownlee made served any significant quake recovery purpose, he said.
''To the extent that it addresses urban limits, it is addressing issues that existed long before the earthquakes and it provides solutions that are likely to endure well beyond the expiry of the [act],'' he said.
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