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Fight brews over land

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
NST Reserve

PRECARIOUS PROTECTION: The public doesn’t realise not all the space in front of the Takapuna Beach Cafe is a public reserve, Mike Cohen says.

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Action taken to protect a popular beachfront reserve has been labelled as "pathetic" by a businessman.

Takapuna Local Board is asking Auckland Council Property Limited to convert leased property into public reserve land.

The move would make it much harder for the council-owned ‘fee-simple' property leased to the Takapuna Beach Cafe and the Takapuna Boating Club to be sold off by ACPL, which is a council-controlled organisation.

"I think it's the most pathetic thing I've heard," Dave Donaldson, a director of the cafe company, says.

"They're just a local board and they don't trust council. Who do they think they are?"

He says the change shouldn't affect the cafe.

"In my book a lease is a lease."

Mr Donaldson is also a member of the Harbour Access Trust, which wants to close the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park near the cafe, and build a National Ocean Water Sports Centre.

That land is public reserve.

Board member and deputy chairman Joseph Bergin also questioned the board's attitude.

"The board seems to be suggesting that we can't trust our CCOs with land . . . if we don't have the ability to express confidence in our CCOs, we have no confidence in the running of the city and anarchy ensues."

But board chairman Mike Cohen says he was surprised that beachfront reserve land had little protection.

The south western corner of the park's lawn and pathways overlap the leased land.

Turning the land into a reserve will "reduce the likelihood of surprises" for both the public and leaseholders, he says.

Council planning specialist Nicki Malone, who briefed the board at its monthly meeting, says commercial leases could continue on the land while guaranteeing its status as a public reserve.

Board member Grant Gillon says he has been told changing the land title to a recreational reserve would cost between $20,000 and $40,000.

Mr Cohen used his casting vote to drive through the motion, along with another directed at Auckland Transport which owns road-end land the board wants protected as well.

Joining Mr Bergin in opposition, board member Dianne Hale says funding land transfers would "open the floodgates" on similar requests.

But board member Jan O'Connor told Mr Bergin it was "incredible" people could oppose turning public land into reserves.

"I'm glad you trust Auckland Transport, I certainly don't."

CCOs who control fee-simple land "just need to put an ad in the paper and sell the land", she says.

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- North Shore Times

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