Vendors may lose spots on walkway

The district council is reviewing its policies around commercial operators and events in its parks and reserves.
The district council is reviewing its policies around commercial operators and events in its parks and reserves.

Busy spots on New Plymouth's coastal walkway could soon be auctioned off to the highest bidder under new council proposals.

New Plymouth District Council is now seeking community feedback on its review of policies covering the commercial use of its parks and reserves.

The review has been prompted in part by the success of the coastal walkway where there has been a steady increase in demand for spaces from food, beverage and service providers.

Three coffee carts, one kiosk, a massage therapist and a bike hire business currently do business on the walkway.

Another 12 or so businesses rely heavily on walkway traffic at Breakwater Bay, the strip of coast between Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park and Ngamotu Beach.

One of the busiest spots is near the East End surf club where Big Wave Cafe has plied its trade since 2008.

Rent for the spot was initially set at peppercorn levels but this was later changed to a percentage of the cart's turnover.

Owner Michelle Welsh said the rent for the stainless steel wave was now hundreds of dollars a week, which was especially difficult to find during the slow winter months. A tender process to get the spot could see their possie become too expensive.

"I have people that rely on us for a job. It would be hard for me to say they might not have a job if we don't get the tender," she said.

The council discussion document proposes dividing the walkway into six zones. Each of these zones would have a mix of food and beverage operators, equipment rentals and other services.

There are currently five food and beverage businesses on the walkway. Under council's preferred option this would increase to six, while equipment hire would have provision for as many as seven operators. There is currently just one.

Mrs Welsh said she had suggested zoning the walkway and said the balance of operators was about right.

Community feedback on the Commercial Use of Parks and Reserves discussion document closes February 28. Further consultation will take place in June 2013 with new policies not expected to be adopted until August.

Taranaki Daily News