'Affordable' units key to marina plan

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 13/02/2014
Bayswater Marina

BATTLE GROUND : Marina owners face opposition to plans for a 125 apartment and terraced housing development at Bayswater.

Simon Herbert
Bayswater Marina owner Simon Herbert the ability to sell freehold units, following negotiatins with the Crown, is a game changer.

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Developers say waterfront Bayswater apartments would meet fast-track consent criteria under new laws to improve housing affordability.

But the suggestion that one-bedroom $500,000 units are affordable is challenged by councillor Chris Darby and the Bayswater Community Committee.

Bayswater Marina's dream is for 125 terraced houses and apartments on the site. Mr Darby says that is considerably more than possible under the draft Unitary Plan.

The marina company is looking at either getting its consent fast-tracked as a Special Housing Areas (SHA) or applying under Unitary Plan rules when it is notified.

Marina owner Simon Herbert says offering about 12 single bedroom apartments for around $500,000, neighbouring million dollar plus units, will help it comply with SHA criteria.

Mr Herbert says it will apply for its application to be a SHA if it feels there is public support.

A fast-tracked application would have to be processed within three months with limited notification and appeals.

Mr Darby says the marina company has approached council officers and there is a rigorous assessment process. He doesn't believe it would qualify and says people expect the Bayswater provisions in the draft Unitary Plan to be tested before any application is considered.

Mr Darby says the plan rules would require its main uses to be for marine-related activities and coastal access.

Bayswater Community Committee spokeswoman Gay Richards says the suggestion it could comply is ridiculous.

Meanwhile, in a surprise move, Mr Herbert has successfully negotiated to buy the freehold of the reclaimed site from the Crown.

He says the ability to sell freehold units is a game-changer to plans because of buyers' resistance to leasehold properties.

The $3.7 million deal followed long negotiations with Land Information New Zealand.

Mr Darby says he's extremely surprised it appears there was no communication with Auckland Council.

The publicly-owned seabed was reclaimed by the marina company for public and private use, and ownership should stay with the Crown, he says.

Coastal land is a finite resource and public access and interests must be protected, Mr Darby says.

But Mr Herbert says public access is ensured with a 15m esplanade reserve around the 3.4ha site.

The proposed marine village buildings would occupy less than 20 per cent of the site with the remainder public space, he says.

The $3.7m deal reflects the millions spent to reclaim the land and a 105-year-old leasehold, Mr Herbert says.

Meanwhile Bayswater Community Committee has lingering concerns about draft Unitary Plan provisions and the marina development proposal. Ms Richards is disappointed that the freehold of the site has been sold. The land was reclaimed from the seabed for marine-related activities, not housing, she says.

"It's removing publicly-owned land into private ownership with no public consultation."

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Bayswater Community Committee is holding a public meeting on the zoning of the marina land on February 19, 7pm till 9pm in Sir Peter Blake Memorial Hall, Bayswater School, Bayswater Ave. It plans to submit to the draft Unitary Plan on the zoning before submissions close on February 28.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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