Report from Kapiti Independent by Alan Tristram
Murray Livingstone watched in dismay yesterday as bulldozers demolished his home and business site of 19 years at the corner of State Highway 1 and Poplar Avenue in Raumati South on the Kapiti Coast.
The New Zealand Transport Agency took the site under the Public Works Act for the southern section of the $630 million Kapiti Expressway linking Mackay’s Crossing to Peka Peka.
But Mr Livingstone (60) says the Agency is still prevaricating on offering him proper compensation for the loss of his business, Livingstone Gardens, which also housed his home.
He says the Agency has offered him $585,000 ‘advance compensation, without prejudice,’ but he doesn’t want to accept this because he thinks this would mean he’s accepting the Agency’s valuation of the site’s value.
Mr Livingstone says he would need up to $800.000 to replace his garden centre buildings on the 2 acres left to him from the original site. And he might not be able to go into operation for some four years while the Expressway is built.
Meanwhile, he says, he’s left in limbo: ”We don’t own it (the land) and they haven’t paid for it!”
And, because his home in the old garden centre has disappeared under the bulldozers, he’s been forced to go back to the family home in Rimu Road, Raumati, and live with his mother.
Among other grievances listed by Mr Livingstone are these:
He says he’s unable to easily access to some of his garden stock (plants) on the land still belonging to him because he has to get prior permission to cross the NZTA construction site to do this.
He says the NZTA have said they will pay his legal costs — but they have failed to pay anything up to now.
Precious possessions such as (a) the flower pot on the former garden centre roof (b) a small bridge (c) trellis-work and (d) security gates, were all put into storage by the NZTA for six months, he says. But now the Agency is demanding storage costs for the items.
All in all, it’s a sad story, he says. He adds: “All we are asking for is a fair deal.”
The Transport Agency has replied to the criticisms by Murray Livingstone who saw his business and home bulldozed two days ago to make way for the new Kapiti Expressway. Its highways manager Rod James confirms that no compensation has been paid to Mr Livingstone, but argues that an ‘advance payment’ is availabe intermediately, without strings.
Mr James says:
” We can confirm that Mr Livingstone’s property has been compulsorily acquired for the Expressway project. We understand Mr Livingstone did not submit a formal objection to the acquisition through LINZ (Land Information NZ).
“We can confirm that the amount of compensation for the property has not yet been agreed with Mr Livingstone.
“An offer of advance payment of compensation has been extended. If accepted, this would be paid to him immediately and would in no way compromise his ability to negotiate for a higher price or to ultimately have the price determined by the Land Valuation Tribunal. He has chosen not to accept this offer.
“The offer of an advance payment remains available to Mr Livingstone and the Transport Agency is committed to reaching a resolution.”
On the question of business stock which Mr Livingstone claims is a major issue, Mr James says:
“Mr Livingstone’s indoor plants, perishable seeds and chemical stock have been purchased from Mr Livingstone. The outdoor plants were moved to Mr Livingstone’s remaining land for his ongoing care. Mr Livingstone has not been refused the opportunity to visit this stock, as the plants are located on his own land.”
Mr James adds: “However, if he wishes to use his former land as a shortcut, we will be happy to accommodate him, but this would need to be arranged in advance because it is a construction site and health and safety precautions are required.
“It would not be appropriate to comment on the status of payments for legal services, as LINZ authorises such payments, but we note that the Public Works Act does allow for the reimbursement of reasonable legal fees and valuer fees.”