Subdivision of the land known as The Hammerhead at the tip of Gulf Harbour Marina will take place, following a High Court decision in 2009 and recent resource consent application, but how this may affect public access to the area, which includes a popular boat ramp and the Gulf Harbour ferry terminal, is causing concern.
Local councillors Wayne Walker and John Watson, as well as the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board are united in their desire to ensure public access (including vehicular access) is guaranteed once the subdivision takes place.
Subdivision of the land was attempted by the former Rodney District Council in 2009 (see box) but Cr John Watson says that the big difference this time around is that the land has become indispensable as a transport hub.
Public investment in the boat ramp and ferry terminal has been considerable, and includes building a breakwater.
The local board has spent more than $100,000 on safety works there in the last year alone.
In addition, Hobbs Wharf developer Top Harbour has invested heavily in ferry service improvements that have seen use of the facility, and demand for parking, soar.
The resource consent application, which was publicly notified just before Christmas, states that no esplanade reserve (also known as Queen’s Chain) should be provided around the edge of the subdivision. The provision of an esplanade reserve is triggered by a subdivision to ensure public access, but Council has asked that it be waived.
The application says that such a strip is “likely to be of little value to the public” and is beyond the capacity of Council to fund.
Local board chair Julia Parfitt and member Janet Fitzgerald describe the possible access restrictions that may result as “alarming”.
“Potentially, without the strip, access to the boat ramp, parking and ferry terminal could be affected,” Mrs Parfitt says.
“You only have to look at how much use that area has been getting this summer to see how important this is,” Mrs Fitzgerald says.
Top Harbour development consultant Michael Webb-Speight says Top Harbour, which has invested in ferry service improvements, will make a submission. “We are a stakeholder in the ferry service and want to be reassured that any development will include provision for the future of that vital service,” Mr Webb-Speight says.
Gulf Harbour Investments, the lessee of the land, is required to use or develop the site in accordance with the conditions of a 1985 Development Licence which allows for two commercial buildings, a heli-pad and parking.
Mrs Fitzgerald and Mrs Parfitt’s investigations show that Gulf Harbour Investments made submissions to the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan that include repeated mention of the need for more density of urban development close to public transport routes and facilities.
Gulf Harbour Investments business and finance manager Cathryn Downs says the company “fully supports the application for the sub-division of 1346 Laurie Southwick Parade, Hobbs Bay, commonly known as the Hammerhead”.
“GHIL has been working with Council entities since 2005 to see the obligations of the development licence fulfilled.
A decision as to the use of the land is not currently confirmed,” she says.
The Hammerhead – current situation:
• Auckland Council owns the Hammerhead, just over 3ha of reclaimed land at the tip of Gulf Harbour Marina.
• A 1985 Development Licence gives Gulf Harbour Investments Ltd (GHIL) the right to lease lots on the Hammerhead.
• The Minister of Crown Lands has stated that the Hammerhead is to remain largely a reserve as compensation for loss of Hobbs Bay during construction of the Gulf Harbour Marina in the 1980s. An Act of Parliament guarantees public access to the area (except for buildings). It can only be used for ‘boat harbour’ purposes.
• In 2009 a High Court decision required Council to subdivide the land into three lots and lease to GHIL, if requested, with any development to be in accordance with Plan GHM2. This shows the Hammerhead largely as it is currently used, except for a 600sqm site labelled “proposed commercial building site”.
• GHIL has to pay rent once the land is subdivided and leases issued.
• Rodney District Council applied for subdivision in 2009 but it was put on hold.
• After receiving confirmation that GHIL wanted to proceed with the subdivision, Council CCO Panuku Development Auckland was legally required to reapply for consent, which it did at the end of last year.
Have your say
A public meeting has been organised by Crs Wayne Walker and John Watson to provide information about the issue and how to make submissions. This will be held on Tuesday, February 9 at the Gulf Harbour Yacht Club at 7pm.
Submissions on the resource consent application close on February 19, 5pm. The documents can be found, and submissions made, at aucklandcouncil.govt.nz under Publicly Notified Consents. The details and submission forms will also be at local libraries.
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