Neighbour driveway clash sparks safety campaign

  • 02/08/2015

A Kiwi businessman has won a year-long legal dispute with his neighbour over the erection of a driveway gate.

Evan Christian, who is the chairman of Advantage Group, lives in a large, $8.65 million estate near Takapuna and wanted to build a gate to keep his children safe from cars.

His neighbour, Cameron Gregory, a former shareholder of glass supplier Metro GlassTech, disputed the plans to build the fence and took Mr Christian to the High Court with the intentions of blocking the plan.

Mr Gregory, who owns the property in front of Mr Christian, told the New Zealand Herald a shared gate at the top of the driveway had already been taken away due to plans for second gate 20 metres down the drive, which would mean he would have to drive through two separate gates to get home.

Mr Christian told the NZ Herald this lone gate wouldn't have gone far enough to keep his children safe.

"I don't want to get off-side with anyone, especially not my neighbours, but when it comes to the safety of one's kids I will do anything I can to make sure they are safe."

During the ordeal, Mr Christian removed the gate at the top of the driveway, citing Mr Gregory's complaints, and began planning to build a his new gate 20 metres further down.

Mr Gregory once again wasn't satisfied and applied to the High Court to have the shared gate reinstated. The court ruled against Mr Gregory, and Mr Christian was given the go-ahead for his original two-gate plan.

Now Mr Christian is hoping his actions have paved the way for other parents who want to keep their driveways child-friendly. He does, however, acknowledge not everybody has the money to take out a court case.

"I grew up in a state house where money was tight, but every child has the right to be provided with safe access to their home. My research shows that state houses are some of the most dangerous for children, with entrances opening directly onto the driveway."

According to statistics provided by injury prevention group SafeKids, every two weeks a child is either killed or hospitalised in New Zealand from an accident on a driveway.

Mr Christian says this statistic isn't good enough, and so he is joining forces with SafeKids to raise awareness of the issue and help finance the organisation's appeal for the new unitary plans to incorporate driveway safety as part of building permits.

General Manager of SafeKids, Ann Weaver, says Mr Christian's passion for the cause may just be exactly what's needed to help decrease the injuries sustained in driveways, and highlight it as a major issue for builders when developing homes.

"Evan is a passionate supporter of a number of our safety projects, including a summer media campaign promoting safety in driveways, and we are very happy that he has moved one step closer to a safer drive for his own young children."

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