Push for NOWSC continues

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 17/01/2014

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Fresh designs for a high performance water sports centre on Takapuna caravan park are full speed ahead, despite new local board decisions.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board has called for new investigations into the holiday park's future and is considering looking at alternative National Ocean Water Sports Centre sites.

But NOWSC backers the Harbour Access Trust says the campground site best suits Yachting New Zealand's needs and expects new plans to be ready within a month.

Meanwhile Friends of Takapuna Beach Reserve is putting pressure on local MPs in an election year over the government's $3 million funding and support for the controversial campground location.

Harbour Access Trust chairman Peter Wall says the local board wants to "cover all bases" but it's not stopping resource consent work preparation.

It hopes to lodge an application by April but Mr Wall says the timeframe is tight.

Mr Wall says the trust is "legally entitled" to progress a notified application for the northern beachfront reserve site that will give the public a chance to comment.

That is confirmed by the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan and the underlying zoning of the land, he says.

Suggestions that the original proposed site in The Strand, adjacent to existing Takapuna Boating Club facilities, is still an option is a "red herring", Mr Wall says.

The trust doesn't have the $20m required to buy adjoining properties and it's unsuitable for Yachting New Zealand's needs, he says.

Mr Wall confirms the original agreement between North Shore City Council and the trust has to be reviewed because it refers to The Strand, not the campground site.

But Friends of Takapuna Beach Reserve say there is overwhelming opposition to the campground site because of the loss of precious reserve.

Member Ron Batty wrote to Sports Minister Murray McCully late last year saying any long term or permanent intrusion on the reserve and campground was "not acceptable nor negotiable".

"Feelings that are now shared by more than 3000 petitioners, over 9000 Facebook supporters and more than 800 previously written submissions to council."

The Strand is a more publicly accepted option that makes use of existing yachting facilities without adding to congestion near the Takapuna boat ramp, he says.

Mr Batty said the group was gearing up to make NOWSC a national election issue, pointing out it had already had success at local body elections.

He also sought disclosure of Harbour Access Trust's spending of taxpayer-funded money.

Mr McCully confirmed his support for NOWSC at the campground site and didn't provide detailed financial figures.

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"I am advised that the parties concerned diligently explored the available site options before settling on the reserve," he says.

"This area provides the necessary requirements for a high performance sailing facility and after it has been restored it will be open to all, rather than favouring those with access to the caravan park as is the current situation."

Mr Batty says it's an arrogant, inadequate response that doesn't answer many of his questions.

Harbour Access Trust chairman Peter Wall says it has filed audited annual returns that are publicly available.

He says it has spent $250,000 of a $300,000 Sport New Zealand government grant, largely on consultants for work on the original The Strand site.

Mr Wall says the campground takes up a large part of the reserve but NOWSC will only take up 15 percent.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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