Office plan sinks

MARNIE HALLAHAN
Last updated 08:14 19/03/2013
NOWSC Hearing
Peter Eley

EAGER EARS: More than 100 people turned out to listen to the hearings panel deliberate the future use of the Takapuna Beach Reserve.

 local board chairman Chris Darby, left, and independent commissioner Greg Hill
Local board chairman Chris Darby, left, and independent commissioner Greg Hill.

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The controversial National Ocean Watersports Centre proposed for Takapuna Beach looks to be dead in the water.

During last Thursday's deliberations the hearings panel unanimously vetoed Yachting New Zealand's plans for an office block housing 27 staff on the beachfront reserve.

It was also decided that the boat storage facilities and debriefing rooms for high performance sailors, both integral aspects of the NOWSC proposal, would not be assigned a specific location in the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan.

And despite huge public support it was decided that the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park will be closed.

Chairman and independent commissioner Greg Hill says the whole draft management plan needs a "major rewrite".

Community opposition to public reserve land being used for "commercial" purposes such as a Yachting NZ administration building was made clear during the submissions process.

But many other submissions calling for the retention of the 80-year-old Takapuna Beach Holiday Park were not given any weight by the panel.

Takapuna businessman and panel member Kevin Schwass voted to close the campground, saying "contrary to popular opinion it is not a numbers game".

"I took into account everyone's views but I have a bias for what I think is right for Takapuna," Mr Schwass says.

He was overheard after the deliberations saying to Takapuna Beach Business Association front men and NOWSC supporters Peter White and Dave Donaldson that they'd got a "reasonable outcome".

Panel member Jan O'Connor is the lone voice supporting the retention of the campground saying that's what the community wants.

A closing date for the holiday park has not been suggested but the panel agrees there is no future for it on "precious reserve land".

The fact that the campground was assigned a non-renewable lease 10 years ago is used as justification for it not being included in this reserve management plan by panel members.

But documents released to the North Shore Times under the Official Information Act show Auckland Council officers, after meeting with Yachting NZ and the NOWSC's major backers Harbour Access Trust, worked to convince the local board to only include two options in the draft management plan.

"Both of these options are dependant on the lease for the holiday park not being renewed upon its expiry date of March 31, 2013. This is the real push we need to make with the board," council's Takapuna Transformation project leader Catherine Edmeades says.

Panel members say keeping public open space is the highest priority for the beachfront reserve.

But the inclusion of some form of boat storage and a building for high performance meetings and debriefing sessions is acceptable to all panel members excluding Ms O'Connor and chairman Mr Hill.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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