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Plans for sailing centre at Takapuna Campground get setback at Hearing

by Sail-World on 15 Mar 2013
A coaching session cloncludes at Takapuna Beach - Takapuna March 14, 2013 © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Yachting New Zealand would appear to have been thwarted in their plans to develop a national sailing centre, on the Reserve currently occupied by the Takapuna Campground.

The centre was part of a draft management plan for the Takapuna Beach area, which was discussed in open deliberations at a public meeting in Takapuna, on Thursday night.

The plan called for areas of boat storage, rigged and unrigged, along with a building to house Yachting New Zealand coaching and administration staff.

Submissions had been invited on the draft management plan which attracted intense local debate, that became polarised around whether the Reserve should be used for a marine hub, of which the proposed Yachting New Zealand facility was the centrepiece.

The other option presented was for a new-format of campground with remote operated motorhome connection points only. The existing campground was put on a month to month lease only earlier in 2013, and did not figure in either option developed by Council officers.

A panel comprising five community Board members and one independent member, was tasked with conducting the Hearings and making recommendations effectively to itself, as the same five Panel members plus a sixth member will make the Decision on the management plan.

It would seem, in any event, that the Plan will be substantially re-written to provide a simpler, more factual document.

The national news website stuff.co.nz reports that: Panel members agreed that providing 'commercial' office space for Yachting NZ staff was not an appropriate use of reserve land.

They also decided against formally including the provision for 1200 square metres of covered boat storage and a 500-sqm hardstand storage facility in the management plan, both integral parts of the NOWSC proposal.
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However including a provision for the future development of some form of storage facility and high performance debriefing room was agreed upon.

The $8.5 million government backed NOWSC project was originally sited next to the Takapuna Boating Club on The Strand and was to be mostly underground.

In July last year the draft management plan relocating the watersports centre to the campground site was made public.

Since then there have been claims of 'behind closed door' dealings between Auckland Council and those involved with the NOWSC.

Takapuna Beach Holiday Park owners and groups like the Takapuna Boating Club, and Waka Ama say they were completely left out of the consultation process.

However council officers engaged in consultation with Yachting New Zealand and project backers the Harbour Access Trust from very early on in the draft plan process.

Documents released to the North Shore Times under the Official Information Act revealed that Auckland Council's Takapuna Transformation project leader Catherine Edmeades made plans to 'convince' the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board to only include two options in the draft plan, both of which included the NOWSC being situated on part of the campground site.

'Both of these options are dependent on the lease for the holiday park not being renewed.... This is the real push we need to make with the board,' said Mrs Edmeades.

The hearings panel will now finalise their recommendations which will be presented to the Devonport-Takapuna Local board .

The local board have final jurisdiction regarding the future use of Takapuna's beachfront reserve.

All but one local board member was part of the hearings panel.


For the full report on stuff.co.nz http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/8429198/The-night-Takapuna-lost-its-soul!click_here and an earlier report can be viewed by http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/8413068/Hard-questions-on-watersports-centre!clicking_here

The original 2010 plan for the NOWSC was for it to be alongside Takapuna Boating Club, on Takapuna Beach. That proposal was jettisoned by Yachting New Zealand in 2012 ostensibly on the basis of cost and a nearby telecom cable, in favour of the Campground location.

The two options proposed, excluding the campground in its present form, raised a storm of local protest which attracted almost 8,000 friends to a Facebook site established by Friends of the Takapuna Holiday Park.

Many of those who had opposed the creation of a hardstand area for rigged yachts at an earlier Hearing, changed their stance for the Campground proposal Hearing process, and supported a High Performance (NOWSC) centre in the original location alongside the Takapuna Boating Club. As that was not an option in the draft management plan for Takapuna Beach, the Panel were not able to comment or recommend that option.

Conceptually, the original proposal for the NOWSC seemed to have widespread support, but incorporation of national body administration facilities would still be the same issue as in the Campground, and the nearest these could be located would be in a commercial building adjoining Takapuna Beach.

The fatal flaw in the NOWSC proposal for the Campground was a provision in the Reserve status of the land proposed for the location of the NOWSC, which required the use to be related to the use of the adjoining water. While high performance facilities could be justified on this basis, it was not possible to justify the location of a national sporting body on this land consistent with this requirement. The panel apparently did not accept the verbal assertion of a Council Officer that the whole of the Yachting NZ office was focused on all NZ sailors using the High Performance facility either now or in the future.

There was support for boat storage including hardstand (which was deferred from a previous Hearing) in the Campground Reserve, but no size for this space was specified. In fact no size or shape for any supported activities is expected to be recommended, with these being determined at a later stage.

Submissions were also made on the issue of telecom cables off Takapuna Beach, and that according to charts of the area, there are 12 disused cables on the seabed - restricting use of the area for running races, and with the threat of severe financial penalty on race organisers for anchoring race management in the area. It is believed that the Panel will recommend the removal of these disused cables.

The recommendations from the the Panel are not final, and may be amended further when the Local Board meet to make a final decision.

The majority of the panel were in favour of boat storage on the location, and it would seem facilities such as video rooms and changing facilities for the high performance sailors - but always with the override of either public or 30% community use.

Bottom line is likely that facilities for high performance sailing will definitely improve, over the current almost non-existent level. However the concept of a National Ocean Water Sports Centre with office facilities capable of taking 22 staff along with five regional officers, plus a 30% community use would seem to have been set aside.

Although the Takapuna Boating Club's premises for both a clubhouse and safety and race management boat storage are located in the area covered in the plan, as an existing use but still subject to renewable lease. It is believed that these will be permitted to continue in their current form.

Yachting New Zealand declined to comment, at this stage, on the outcome of the Hearings, and the recommendations.

Update For North Shore Times reports http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/8442829/Office-plan-sinks!click_here and http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/8442862/Panel-sails-close-to-the-wind!click_here and reaction to the loss of the campground http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/north-shore-times/8442883/Campground-decision-disgusts-visitors!click_here

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