Argie-bargie over bay plan
Public pressure hasn't stopped a decision to grant the owner of a development at Wharetana Bay permission to barge in two pre-fabricated buildings over the esplanade reserve.
Tensions ran high at the monthly meeting of the Waiheke Local Board during its public forum. Five speakers made presentations urging the board to decline the application, citing archaeological, historical and cultural concerns.
The development within the “coastal yard” has caused outcry from some neighbours and other residents who say the original resource consent application granted in January 2011 should have been publicly notified.
The bay is on the Te Whau peninsula and is home to an historic homestead.
Wharetana Bay action group co-ordinator Nicky Green says the group's pleas to the local board have “fallen on deaf ears”.
But local board chairwoman Faye Storer says she has spoken to members of the group and agrees the development should have been publicly notified.
“The reality is the board has no power over the granting of resource consents and this is a legal consent.”
The board does, however, have the delegated authority to make a decision over the crossing of a reserve or an esplanade reserve.
Arguments for and against the application to barge in the two units and move them over the esplanade were heard at the board's monthly meeting on Thursday.
Impresario Alan Smythe, who lives in the historic homestead, says the sea wall is being washed back and the bank is too fragile for a boat to be dragged over it.
Ross Gillespie has a raft of concerns, the main one being that the site is “wahi tapu”.
Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee urged the board to defer the decision because a retrospective resource consent relating to the cabana structure in the development is outstanding.
“The other factor here is that this coastal area, which obviously has archaeological sites of merit and interest and also of Maori interest, is definitely covered by the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park Act.”
But Auckland Council resource consent manager Mark White says the crossing of the esplanade is not connected to the retrospective resource consent.
Archaeologist Dr Rod Clough says there is no indication of any intact archaeological remains in the area of the crossing.
“The Historic Places Trust has issued an authority for the crossing and if there is any archaeology exposed there is a process to go through.”
Local board member Paul Walden's concern is for the archaeological heritage value “that may well be buried below”.
“As written in history books of Waiheke, if there's an iconic site on Waiheke it's this site here. It's the only portion of the bay in public ownership.”
But the applicant's planning lawyer Russell Bartlett says: “The Act is not about preserving phantoms. It's about preserving the things you know are there.”
The Archaeological Damage Assessment Report commissioned by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust states that the method of barging the prefabricated buildings on site will not have “adverse archaeological implications”.
The board voted four to one, with member Paul Walden against, to allow the transit of the buildings over the esplanade reserve.
Conditions given to the landowner to comply with will be overseen by parks officer Gary Wilton.