Livingstone Garden Centre Hit

Expressway claims another victim

By Alan Tristram

Kāpiti Coast garden centre owner Murray Livingstone of Raumati South says the Expressway ‘bureaucracy’ could soon leave him jobless — and homeless.

Mr Livingstone has operated his garden business on the prime site next to SHI for the past 19 years – but the planned Kāpiti Expressway will slice through half of it, the best half.

He says the NZ Land Transport Agency (NZLTA) say they want to bulldoze his business premises.

But he points out, the building includes his living accommodation, and the NZLTA won’t provide enough money to build new premises.

‘What do they want me to do, ’he asks, ‘live in a tent?’

He’s calling for help against the bureaucrats in the NZLTA, who he claims are offering a derisory amount for the best portion of his land – but also won’t come up with an alternative site to replicate his business close to SH1.

Murray has run Livingstone Gardens, on the corner of SH1 and Poplar Avenue, for the past 19 years with the help of his mother Marilyn and one or two other workers.

But it’s run down in recent years due to the roading uncertainty, which has effectively meant he hasn’t known whether he was ‘coming or going.’

Now, he says, he’s fighting the bureaucrats for his home and his business.

He says the NZTA wants to take all the eastern half of his 1.63 hectare site next to SH1 – and this is where his 3,000 sq ft premises are situated.

However, he says, they’re only offering $495,000 for half the land and no compensation for the premises, which includes his living accommodation and various ancillary buildings.

He says this is far less than the replacement amount needed and past valuations he has obtained.

Access problem

The remaining half of the Livingstone Garden site will be next to the huge roundabout planned for the Expressway at the end of Poplar Avenue.

But he says the bureaucrats seem to be denying him reasonable access to the roundabout, which would be essential for him to carry on his business.

And when he approaches the local Kapiti Coast District Council, they say he can continue to operate his business, he says.

But they won’t help him get proper access to the roundabout. They refer him to the NZLTA for this, and the NZLTA won’t help either.

So, Murray concludes, the bureaucrats are ruining his life and his livelihood.

“They are actually planning to demolish where I live and they are not doing anything about it,” he says.

“But the worst thing is my meetings with them have been like I’m in Court. They make me feel that I have done something wrong!”

Background

He says that after the NZLTA announced plans for the Expressway and the huge roundabout, he approached them and asked for a replacement site with access to SH1.

The NZLTA told him they would get back to him in six weeks, he says.

That was 18 months ago—and he’s still waiting for a reply on this.

 ‘Derisory’ offer

So he says he’s caught on the prongs of a cleft stick — given a ‘derisory’ offer for his business — about a quarter the price of his original valuation for the site –- but not offered any other comparable site to move to.

And, he says,there’s nowhere to live once his premises are demolished for the Expressway.

Whichever way he turns, he says, he meets a blank wall from officialdom, which doesn’t seem to care about his right to carry on his business, earn a livelihood, and live peacefully in his own home

Murray should have the full support of this community.
NZLTA needs to live up to its statement of fair market value and offer such for the full block, taking into account all replacement value of buildings, business etc.
Nothing less otherwise NZLTA’s statements are meaningless.
Plus the offer needs to recognise the business has not had the opportunity for business growth over the past years of uncertainty, and that needs to be factored into a ‘fair market value’ offer.