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Shoreline upgrade all-go

CIARA PRATT
Last updated 07:52 12/09/2012

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A project that will change the face of Manukau Harbour is full steam ahead now that two appeals against resource consents for the development have been resolved.

The $28 million Onehunga foreshore project, set to create up to nine new beaches over one kilometre of coastline, has been stalled for about six months.

Resource consent was granted by Auckland Council earlier this year but struck problems during a 15-day appeal period. Appeals were lodged by Transpower and iwi group Te Akitai.

Te Akitai's appeal related to the protection of cultural and legal rights over the land while Transpower appealed due to concerns regarding the foreshore safety, nearby power lines and consent conditions.

Te Akitai's appeal has now been withdrawn and there will be no Environment Court hearing. Transpower's appeal was resolved earlier also and the project finally has the green light.

Auckland Council project spokeswoman Deborah Diaz says after positive discussions with the appellants, there is a desire from all parties involved to achieve the best outcome for Onehunga.

"We are very pleased that the budget committed to the park won't be spent on lawyers, and glad that the community has been spared a year's delay and the experience and cost of a court hearing.

"An enormous number of residents have supported the project during the resource consents process, and some have put in more than five years' work to get this far."

She says various consent conditions must now be met before workers can move on site. "We'd originally hoped earthworks would get underway in spring 2012 and we're not going to be too far off that. But, generally, construction is expected to take place over two years. The key thing is being able to make the most of good weather for the earthworks."

Onehunga Enhancement Society chairman Jim Jackson is happy work can finally begin to revamp the foreshore.

"To me it's been a long time coming. Without the determination of everyone involved this outcome couldn't have been achieved and hopefully this will be the start of a change in the attitude to the harbour."

Mr Jackson says the community worked well together for a quality outcome. "This project will become a legacy I'm sure 100 years down the track. It's a game-changer showing that a community can show unity and it will be a benchmark for further projects in the harbour."

The Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board will contribute $10m to the $28m cost. Board chairwoman Leila Boyle says workers can now focus their energy on the design and development stage of the foreshore.

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"This is the best outcome for ratepayers financially and this process has sorted out issues that needed resolving in a positive way.

"This detailed design and construction phase will take two years, and the end result is going to be amazing.

"We are all working together to make Onehunga a better place to live."

Maungakiekie MP Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga says he is relieved the project is going ahead.

"There's real optimism now about the time frame."

The remaining $18m will be contributed by the NZ Transport Agency.

Agency state highways manager for Auckland and Northland Tommy Parker is welcoming the successful resolution of the appeals.

"We have been supporting Auckland Council and the community for a long time to help them achieve their restoration goals."

The new Onehunga foreshore will be one of the largest land reclamation projects for recreational purposes.

- Central Leader

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