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National Ocean Water Sports Centre moves after two years of planning

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com on 11 Jul 2012
Artist’s impression of the revamped Takapuna Camping Ground with no motorhomes only permitted Auckland City Council http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

The National Ocean Water Sports Centre (NOWSC) which was announced two years ago by the Minister of Sport and Recreation the Hon. Murray McCully and then North Shore City Mayor, Andrew Williams, has now been moved to a location in the Takapuna Camping Ground.

The project was announced in the tenure of the old North Shore City Council, and has now been joined into a Draft Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan by the new Auckland Council.

The Beach Management Plan was released for public comment on Tuesday July 10, 2012.

No formal announcement has been made on the reasons for the change of location after two years of consultation and planning.

An Auckland City Council Council spokesperson told Sail-World that the decision to make the change of location had followed a decision from three Commissioners who sat on an earlier application from Yachting New Zealand to create a hard stand area alongside the Takapuna Boating Club rescue boat sheds. Sailors had been keeping boats on the reserve while training at Takapuna Beach.

In not approving the application the Commissioners felt that there was no urgency to make a decision on the Hard Stand application ahead of the promulgation of the Draft Management Plan. It seems as that the application for the NOWSC Centre has been put into the same pigeon-hole despite there being no evidence taken at the Hearing into the hardstand.

According to the Council spokesperson the rationale behind the NOWSC move is to congregate all boating activities at the northern end of the beach, leaving the former location free for other recreational users. However there is no proposal to move the Takapuna Boating Club from its current location, and the club has a lease running for another 10 years. (The long-standing rationale for the area has been to separate power boats from other non-power users, largely on safety reasons.)

Two similar options have been presented in the Draft Plan for future use of the Takapuna Camping Ground.

Both involve the cancellation of the current lease of the area, and construction of an extension to Allison Avenue, which will provide for 25 double trailer parks. Underneath this extension will be garaging for boats including waka ama.

A hard stand area will be created in the NW end of the camping ground with the NOWSC being located above ground also at the NW end.

The NOWSC is shown on the plans as a two level building, with the upper level protruding well above road level behind, however the Council spokesperson said that the drawing was conceptual only and no decision had been made on the type, style or height of the building - just the possible location. However the text accommodating the drawings specify a 'multi-use building over two levels'.

One option presented by the Council planners has no camping facilities at all, a second option has an area in front of the garaging for mobile homes only to be parked.

Detailed plans were revealed in June 2010, for the original facility known as 'The Bunker' due to the fact that the facility was to be dug into the ground under a carpark, before being sealed in, and the area restored then to a near similar original state.

Estimated to cost $8million original facility the was to cater for Sailing, Triathlon and Ocean Kayaking, alongside the Takapuna Boating Club, whose non-sailing members participate in these activities in substantial numbers, on week mights.

The novel concept for the original facility was that it would be located in a large excavation in the adjoining carpark digging a hole 36 metres long by 60 metres wide - which was to be covered back to the existing land level and topped with a deck and viewing area. The facility was to be capable of storing about 80 boats, plus RS:X and Techno windsurfers, along with paddleboards and surfskis plus waka/outriggers and kayaks.

Detailed concept plans, developed by architects Warren and Mahoney, were unveiled by the Minister at a briefing at the Takapuna Boating Club in June 2010. At that point it was expected to have the facility opened by September 2011.

The Bunker was planned to have a glass fronted area opening onto the Takapuna Beach reserve, which would have housed changing rooms and showers plus high performance coaching facilities for Yachting New Zealand and the other ocean watersports.

The Takapuna Boating Club and beach area has been the venue for some 14 world sailing championships since the 1970's and was the venue for the 2008 World Championships and Olympic Qualification regatta for four Olympic classes in 2008.

Funding for the facility, part of a series of high performance sporting infrastructure announcements made by the NZ Government in June 2010 which included a major upgrade of the Millennium Centre, a Cycling facility and the Rowing facility at Lake Karapiro was already complete at that time. Funding for The Bunker was to have come from Government sources, plus the then North Shore City Council and other funding sources.

Opposition to the new proposals is expected to be intense, with a Facebook page established less than a month already attracting over 3,000 followers. The objective of the Facebook group being to retain the camping ground, and its unique character.

The Council spokesperson would not comment on other options, for the NOWSC, should the objectors be successful.






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