Boaties blast Auckland Council for not tightening housing rules on marina land

Boaties are furious with the Auckland Council for not proceeding with a marina strategy, saying it will make it easier for marina land to be turned into housing.

A long-running push by boaties to come up with a strategy for Auckland’s 14 marinas was squashed last week by 12 votes to nine at the council’s planning meeting.

Councillors are deeply divided on the issue, with mayor Phil Goff, a majority of councillors and senior officers saying two controversial plans have been resolved and crying poverty at the $1 million cost for a strategy.

The nine councillors believe the decision allows individual marinas to be picked off one by one for housing developments, subject to the political whim of the day.

Six of the 14 marinas are owned by the council and managed by its property arm, Panuku Auckland. The other eight are privately owned and soon number nine with the Kennedy Bay marina on Waiheke Island under construction.

The marinas have more than 6000 berths, which are used by many of the city’s 135,000 boaties and 43,000-plus trailer boats.

Paul Glass, Bayswater Berth Holders Association chairman, said a marina strategy could have guided the latest plans at the North Shore marina for 94 terrace homes and 27 apartments in three buildings – down from an earlier plan for 250 homes after strong local opposition.

He said the plan wipes out a lot of the marina services, makes poor provision for boat launching and parking trailers and focuses on profitability, not the long-term interests of the marina for future generations.

“Council is so desperate for housing it will pretty much wave any half-baked scheme through and this looks like a half-baked scheme.

“Having a strategy is absolutely essential because once these assets are gone, they are gone forever,” Glass said.

Bayswater marina owner Simon Herbert has previously told the Herald the revised plans have retained and enhanced the marina and access to it as well as providing for permanent marina offices, a chandlery and car and boat-trailer parking.

“It’s a fabulous location and opportunity for a new small community right next to the ferry terminal and only seven minutes to the CBD by ferry and will of course contribute in a small way to the housing shortage,” Herbert said.

The other matter bugging Glass and Auckland Marine Users Association spokesman Richard Steel is how the council, with only three days’ notice and no word to stakeholders, revoked an earlier council decision in 2019 to develop a marina strategy.

Glass said it was an insult to all the parties who had put a lot of effort towards a strategy, saying the move showed a “total lack of democracy”.

Steel said the decision will delight developers, who are chipping away at marinas under rules in the Unitary Plan. A marina strategy had the potential to change the rules to meet future demand and re-establish some control over the assets for community use, he said.

“We felt if a strategy was properly prepared and implemented, it would do just that. The council decided that was a good idea and two years later decided it wasn’t,” said Steel.

Goff said there were two significant issues behind developing a strategy in 2019 – selling marina land at Westpark marina for housing and potential development of the Hammerhead land at Gulf Harbour.

He said the Westpark proposal had been dropped and the Gulf Harbour lease had been purchased back by the council.

“There are no plans to sell publicly owned marinas, any such plan would have to come to the governing body for approval and is unlikely to be given,” he said.

What’s more, said Goff, the marina strategy could cost up to $1m when there are other priorities for the use of staff time, such as the Three Waters Reform, light rail and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development.

He said councillors accepted staff advice that there was no prospect of a marina strategy being given staff time to develop in the foreseeable future and no money allocated within the next four years.

Councillor John Watson said a strategy would have resulted in marinas being classified as “strategic assets”, lifting the bar for any future sales and requiring public consultation.

“Instead, as a consequence of this revocation, a sales proposal can be brought before council on an ad hoc basis.

“It also avoids putting the spotlight on Westpark Marina where the land was zoned for development during the Unitary Plan in highly questionable circumstances, without public knowledge and in direct contravention of the Empowering Act, designed to control what can occur within the confines of the marina,” he said.

Watson said the Nelson City Council developed a marina strategy for $60,000.

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