Camp breaks records

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
Camp ground

PLAN RETHINK: Options for a campground lease and possible new location for the National Ocean Water Sports Centre are sought by Devonport-Takapuna Local Board.

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Record numbers of holiday makers are flocking to Takapuna Beach Holiday Park as debate continues about its future.

Owner Marius Rothmann says more than 3200 guests stayed in December and figures for January and February will be even higher.

People love the experience so much they're re-booking for later in the year, Mr Rothmann says.

He is optimistic about the caravan park's future with a new local board making decisions but warns anyone booking, it's on a month by month lease with Auckland Council.

Meanwhile Devonport-Takapuna Local Board is making decisions on Takapuna Beach Reserve and campground that fly in the face of council officers' advice.

The board has called for fresh investigations into the caravan park's future and may seek a report on alternative sites for the National Ocean Water Sports Centre.

This is despite council officers saying Takapuna Beach Holiday Park's closure couldn't be revisited because it wasn't included in the 2013 reserve management plan.

Friends of Takapuna Beach Reserves pushed saving the campground as an election issue.

Spokesman Ron Batty says the new board is addressing the issue in a way that is mindful of public opinion.

The public previously felt council officers and "heavy-hitters" like NOWSC backers the Harbour Access Trust were running the ship, he says.

There is overwhelming public support for the campground and against sailing dominating the northern reserve, Mr Batty says.

The local board is under pressure to complete a more detailed concept plan that outlines future uses for Takapuna's beachfront reserves because council funding for the project runs out in June.

This forced it to confront the controversial issue early in its new term.

No council officers attended debate on the issue at a pre-Christmas meeting because Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman's Mike Cohen's resolutions are so at odds with their advice.

The board's council appointed relationship manager Eric Perry said the issue had become so political it was inappropriate for the officer to be present during debate.

Board member and deputy chairman Joseph Bergin said he was "shocked and appalled" by chairman Mike Cohen and Jan O'Connor and Grant Gillon's motions.

The fact no council officer

would attend the debate spoke volumes, he said.

Mr Bergin said the management plan was a "fair and open process" and revisiting decisions was "insulting to the process and people involved".

But Grant Gillon said there was massive public support to keep the campground and for increased public space.

The board should be the decision makers not "invisible planners", he said.

Jan O'Connor said the management plan process was "flawed from day one".

She said she was shocked that within a week council officers changed their minds and suggested the campground, not The Strand, as a site for NOWSC.

The public was never given the option of keeping the campground, she said.

Dianne Hale warned the campground would struggle like a "lame duck".

Ms Hale said it was on a month by month lease and chalets and its main office building were due to go at the end of this month when resource consent ran out.

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She said it was unwelcoming and scruffy in winter and people would rather see the reserve in public use.

The management plan provided for public space and only 15 percent was set aside for water related activities and boat storage, she said.

But earlier in the meeting Mr Batty and Takapuna resident James Young warned the water sports centre would dominate the reserve and add to congestion at the boat ramp. Mr Rothmann says he applied this month for an extension on the resource consent for the cabins and manager's house.

He disputes Ms Hale's view that the campground looks scruffy in winter, saying flooding problems disappeared after the council fixed the road.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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