Penlink development which will provide another route in and out of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula. Photo / Supplied
By Michael Barnett
The community is desperate for the Penlink Project to get underway on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
An acid test of new mayor Phil Goff’s leadership will be to ensure the ‘ready-to-go’ Penlink Project gets a construction start in his three-year term.
The project is all about congestion relief for the Silverdale-Whangaparaoa area by building a new 7km road direct from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to the Northern Motorway, and bypass Silverdale, a rapidly expanding business centre which has its own growing congestion issues. Private sector commuters, freight and bus services stand to benefit hugely.
Penlink is ready to go. It is consented. Appeals have been dealt with. The land has been purchased.
There is a strong business case: Benefit cost ratio of 2.9 for four lane version — 5.7 for two lane version. The community desperately wants it — they are sick of 5km of morning peak period congestion everyday and a number of businesses on the peninsula are struggling.
So why isn’t the $380 million construction underway?
The answer that keeps coming back is that there are more deserving projects in south and west Auckland for the limited resources available.
But that excuse doesn’t stack up.
They aren’t ready to go. Besides Penlink’s business case provides for a toll — which the community has agreed to — giving a revenue stream that has potential to reduce the capital cost and cover operating costs long-term.
Penlink is in the central government-Auckland Council aligned project (Atap) programme for the second decade — starting 2028. But this decision was taken before the ‘live zoning’ of nearby Wainui which adds another 20,000 to the population growth of next the 10 years (already the size of a Hamilton).
Without Penlink this development and other potential urban developments in this area of Auckland will be hugely compromised.
In the total scheme of Auckland’s transport investment needs, Penlink is small-scale. A public-private partnership is an option and the private sector is interested, but it is a growing political weeping sore.
Common sense says let’s just do it. Both politically and doing something for North Shore it is win-win.
Surely, the private sector, central government and Auckland Council working together can find a way to build Penlink with minimal impact on Council’s debt levels. I say it could/should be first cab off the rank for the new council — a test case for Auckand Council showing it has a ‘can do’ culture.
A big welcome to Tania who has reopened the cafe at Hobb’s Wharf as Poppy’s Cafe. It will be opening Mon – Fri 9-5, and weekends 8-5, serving coffee, delicious home baking, sandwiches, pies and quiche. So come on down, grab a coffee and sit under the pohutukawa tree if you like or inside!
“Yachting New Zealand has advised the council it remains committed to a High Performance facility in the Auckland region, particularly on the North Shore. There is no formal council-led consultation at this stage with any Local Boards as a preferred site is still to be confirmed,” Kimpton said.
North Shore councillor Chris Darby has serious concerns over the use of old North Shore City money used to construct a Hibiscus Coast sailing facility.
Huge community objection since 2010 has prevented the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board from granting landowner consent to YNZ for a lease of Takapuna Beach Reserve.
Unfortunately for YNZ, according to Auckland councillors for the Albany ward John Watson and Wayne Walker, the Gulf Harbour site is equally as contentious as Takapuna.
The Hammerhead grassy section of the Gulf Harbour marina area is considered a likely spot for YNZ’s “investigation”, because it has a secured 700 square meter commercial lease, yet to be taken up by businessman James Speedy of Harbour Investments Limited.
Minister of Sport Jonathan Coleman said; “I’m aware that Sport NZ is now investigating a potential site at Gulf Harbour.”
“The danger is that licensee could do a backroom deal with the High Performance yachting people that the council, the community, the yachties, people who launch boats here, aren’t party to, that cuts them out of their say as to what should happen here,” Walker says.
Another major issue with YNZ’s Gulf Harbour investigation is that $3 million of funds it has stashed away for the facility from Auckland Council in 2010 was obtained from land sales in Auckland’s old North Shore City.
The possible new Gulf harbour site is in the Rodney district, and Auckland Councillor for the North Shore Ward Chris Darby has issues with North Shore funds being spent on a sporting facility outside their district.
“This is national sporting facility and Auckland Council has got to be very careful about the use of its public money, and that $3 million came from the old North Shore City and it would be totally inappropriate to apply that outside the old North Shore area,” Darby says.
“We’ve got some huge core infrastructure demands and transport and I would be very surprised if the new council had an appetite for spending $3 million on a yachting facility.”
Yachting New Zealand chief executive office David Abercrombie was contacted for comment for this article.
More sailings are being added to the schedule for two popular ferry services.
From 17 October, Auckland Transport is adding six sailings a day to the Gulf Harbour route and four more to Half Moon Bay.
Ferry Services Manager, Gareth Willis, says the extra services are to meet customer demand. “We’ve experienced growth of 130 per cent over the past two years on the Gulf Harbour services. We’ve talked to our customers and they want more choice in time for the busy summer period.”
He says the additional seats follow several months of talks with the operator, 360 Discovery. “There will be improved integrated transport for locals and visitors with the connecting bus services for peak time ferry services.”
Mr Willis says Auckland Transport is also planning for future growth to Gulf Harbour to support the housing growth in the area.
There will now be three peak morning sailings at 6.30am, 7.00am and 7.30am, and three peak afternoon sailings at 4.45pm, 5.15pm and 5.45pm, as well as new sailings in the middle of the day at 10.30 am and 12.30pm from Auckland and 11.30am and 1.30pm from Gulf Harbour.
“Jimbo” James Bailey, Manager 360 Discovery Cruises says his company is pleased to be involved with the development and growth of the Gulf Harbour service. “We are working closely with Auckland Transport to improve the service we offer our customers. The increase in passenger numbers has enabled us to provide a more frequent service with improved reliability due to the purchase of newer vessels.”
Mr Willis says the new Gulf Harbour timetable could mean hundreds of cars coming off the road. “We will provide an extra 750 seats a day so there will be plenty of room for people who currently drive into town.”
He says Half Moon Bay is also getting a boost with new sailings at 9.15am and 3.15pm from Half Moon Bay and at 8.35am and 2.30pm from Auckland. “These extra trips will help with issues around capacity and peak times and mean more choice for those travelling during the day.”
Mr Willis says construction is well underway on the new pier at Half Moon Bay, it’s due to open in early 2017. In the past two years patronage on services to Half Moon Bay has grown by 9%.
While the words ‘marine education centre’ may conjure up a substantial structure such as the Sir Peter Blake Centre at Long Bay, the centre being built at Gulf Harbour is taking a different approach.
A Coastal-Marine Research Group, based at Massey University, has signed an agreement to use a new Marine Education Centre, at Hobbs Wharf.
Provision of the centre was one of the conditions imposed by the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) when granting consent to Top Harbour, the multi-million dollar company owned by Chinese interests, which is developing Fairway Bay.
But rather than being built next to the wharf, as was first mooted, the centre is being built on a 30-tonne floating block of concrete which is lined inside with polystyrene.
Top Harbour’s development consultant Michael Webb-Speight describes the floating solution as “highly attractive and very relevant to its intended purpose”.
Under the conditions set-down by the OIO, it was envisaged that the centre would be a free facility for community use. The Coastguard, in particular, was cited as a group that could use the centre for training and storage.
Mr Webb-Speight says that the small building is consistent with the ‘coastal living’ theme of the development.
“It’s a facility that is quite exciting for the Massey research group,” he says.
Group director Dr Karen Stockin says the ability to tow the centre to research sites in the Hauraki Gulf makes it a bit of a novelty.
“Even with it in situ means we can offer students more of a field trip experience,” she says.
The group is involved in a range of research from marine mammals to marine birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and algae. Mr Webb-Speight would like to see a study done on the Mediterranean fanworm, which he says is a huge problem for boaties.
Isn’t it great to see more ferry sailings from Gulf Harbour – not only does it help ease peak hour congestion but gives us options during the day -Lisa Whyte, Albany ward of Auckland council news will also continue to lobby for weekend sailings if you vote her in as an Albany Ward councillor – would you use the ferry to the city if it was available at the weekend?
Thanks to the support of ferry users the timetable has increased services from October 17th there have been improvements to bus connections for peak sailings as well but midday use will be monitored and reviewed
The $384 million tolled Penlink Highway – which will provide another route in and out of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula – is a step closer after an out of court settlement with land developers.
But Auckland Transport hasn’t yet decided if it will fund the 7km road, which locals and the Chamber of Commerce say is “desperately needed” and should be a priority.
The route is now protected and Penlink can be built anytime within the next 20 years.
Promoters of the idea say the four-lane toll road, which includes facilities for cyclists and pedestrians and a 540m bridge over Weiti River, would mean a 12-18 minute quicker journey for drivers who use the road, and a trip five minutes faster for those who continue to use the current road.
Penlink is expected to attract 16,600 vehicles per day and will use a toll system similar to the Northern Gateway.
An electronic toll system has been designated for it and its expected users will pay up to $3 a trip.
After a new designation was confirmed in March, landowners Green McCahill Holdings and Weiti Developments near the route lodged appeals relating to access to their housing developments.
But last month they reached an agreement with Auckland Transport – the private firms will build a roundabout and part of the southbound on-ramps to the 7km road next month even though the project hasn’t even been funded.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said in a Herald opinion piece in June that Penlink’s cost was “modest” compared with the billions of dollars of recent larger projects. Its benefit-cost ratio of 2.9 also gave it a rating higher than several of NZTA’s Roads of National Significance.
With council dragging its feet on funding, Barnett said the pre-conditions are in place for a farsighted local private-sector investor to add Penlink to its portfolio.
“Clearly, the traditional approach of relying on council hasn’t worked. If the project is to be speeded up, a new approach is required.”
In its business case, the highway was touted as a “very strong candidate” for a public private partnership with a toll of up to $3 a trip.
Hibiscus and Bays local board chairwoman Julia Parfitt said Whangaparaoa residents have always been happy with paying a toll – just as long as it got built to ease pressure on the sole congested road on and off the peninsula.
It would also help unlock the potential of Silverdale as an economic hub for the north and help connections to intensive housing areas like Dairy Flat.
“Silverdale was meant to be an employment centre but the massive congestion either side is a huge chock to that development. [Penlink] is desperately needed now. We’re ready. We’re just waiting for Auckland Transport.”
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said they did not have construction funding but were “regularly reviewing the priority” for Penlink.
Over the last two days, we have been hosts to the Royal New Zealand Navy as they have used the facilities at the Hobbs Wharf and Gulf Harbour to undertake training exercises. Lieutenant Wesley Moir and his team of divers appreciated the opportunity to train in these waters and these photos show the range of activities they undertook.
DoC staffer goes the extra mile to return document to anxious tourist.
Spanish woman Montserrat Sureda, 33, realised just three hours before check in for her flight back to Europe that she’d left her passport on TiritiriMatangi island.
A DoC ranger on a paddleboard, a family in a speedboat, and a shuttle van from Gulf Harbour were used to deliver a passport to a Spanish woman just minutes before her international flight’s check-in was due to close.
It was about 6pm when sole charge TiritiriMatangiisland Department of Conservation ranger Matthew Mold got a call from the distressed tourist.
Montserrat Sureda, 33, had left her passport on the island – and was due to fly out to Europe at 11pm.
She was calling from her hostel in Auckland CBD.
“My hands were shaking when trying to find the phone number for Tiritiri on my phone,” Ms Sureda said.
It was Monday, February 12 – Waitangi Day was being observed, and the last ferry had left the island at 3.30pm. The next one was on the following Wednesday, and Mr Mold was without access to a boat.
“The lady was really distressed – she said surely I could get it to her somehow,” he said.
After finding the passport, the ranger – who had worked less than a month in the island – dashed down to the nearest bay to see if there was anyone around.
“I noticed there were some yachts about 300m away, so I paddled out to see if any of them were going back to the city – but they were all sailing boats and none of them would have been able to get there in time.”
Then he spotted a family fishing from a fibreglass speed boat. He paddled over and found they were willing to ferry the passport to Gulf Harbour.
Mr Mold then raced back to shore, jumped online and found an airport shuttle company in the area.
After explaining the situation to a staff member, a van was sent to pick the passport up from the wharf.
It was delivered for $160 to a very relieved Ms Sureda at Auckland Airport just 10 minutes before check-in was due to close at 9pm.
She messaged Mr Mold to say thank you:
“I’m at the gate waiting to board. I just thought I could not leave without sending you a few words to say that I’m fine and will be able to go back home. Many, many thanks. I will never be able to give you the favour back, but I am immensely thankful,” she wrote.
“I was actually pretty rapt when I got the message from her – I felt pretty chuffed,” Mr Mold said.
Back in Europe, Ms Sureda said without his help, she would have lost her ticket.
“I would have had to buy a new one, which meant of course a lot of money, time and more anxiety.
“That evening my partner would have had to fly home on his own and I would have stayed in Auckland.
“I’m immensely grateful to Matthew.”
Though she would not be able to return the favour personally, she said she would keep Mr Mold’s reply to her message of thanks in mind: “If you ever get the chance, pay it forward to someone who needs it,” he said.
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.
Work going on behind the scenes to push the building of the Penlink Road is beginning to bear fruit, with local board members and developers involved saying there is a significant shift in attitude among the powers that be – including Government and Auckland Transport (AT).
Currently, the building of the road between Whangaparaoa and Redvale has been deferred, with no public investment before 2025-45.
Hibiscus & Bays Local board chair Julia Parfitt and member Janet Fitzgerald, and Top Harbour’s development consultant Michael Webb-Speight are among those working with the Auckland Chamber of Commerce to get Penlink funded and built sooner.
Mrs Fitzgerald says that Auckland Transport is looking at how the Build Own Operate and Transfer model (BOOT) could work for Penlink.
A BOOT is a form of Public Private Partnership that does not require public funding. Ownership of the project extends over a considerable length of time (49 years has been suggested here) so that the company can make a profit on its investment by tolling the road before handing it over to public ownership.
Mrs Fitzgerald says that interest in a BOOT means that the working party set up by the Chamber could produce a proposal for AT.
Mr Webb-Speight says he has also seen a “significant change in position” regarding Penlink on the part of central and local Government, and AT.
He says a BOOT, which he thinks would be a first for this type of infrastructure in NZ, is favoured by companies such as China State Construction, which has previously shown interest in Penlink.
He says that a major construction company could potentially build Penlink as a two-lane road, which is more financially viable, with the designation protected that would enable two more lanes to be built in due course. The four-lane route has been protected, and is estimated to cost $387.8 million.
Last week it was revealed that a high level meeting will soon take place between AT and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce with Penlink on the agenda.
A home with a sea view is a dream for many Kiwis, but what if you could actually live in a house on the water?
An Auckland developer is building the country’s first-ever floating homes, and there has been plenty of interest.
“As far as I’m aware it’s the first in New Zealand,” says Fairway Bay development consultant Michael Webb-Speight. “But it’s not an uncommon thing overseas to have people living in house boats or floating houses.”
The stretch of Gulf Harbour in north Auckland will soon be home to 20 of them.
Building begins in April, and the homes will literally be floating on water.
“Sleeping on the water, for me it’s a wonderful experience,” says Mr Webb-Speight. “Get up, get out of bed, jump off the side.”
Jumping on board are last year’s winners of The Block, Alex and Corban Walls, who will be project managing and designing the interior of the homes.
“I like to choose projects that are out-of-the-box – you know, the ones that inspire you to get out of bed in the morning,” says Mr Walls. “I look at this one and I just think this is so cool.”
The site was originally a paddock – the developer has already had the title before the marina was created, so they own the seabed.
In terms of size, each floating house will be about 32 square metres, which is only about the size of an average hotel room. But there will be an additional mezzanine level for the bedroom, which will be about 12 square metres.
Almost 300 people have already expressed interest in owning a so-called glamorous houseboat, and the developer expects they’ll mainly be used as baches.
“I can definitely see myself living in something like that,” says Ms Walls. “I just think it’s actually going to be a bit of slice of luxury in your life.”
This is just a quick update on the Gulf Harbour service. Firstly and most significantly, next year all the ferry contracts across Auckland are going out for tender. This is a process that will likely take much of 2016 but as far as the Gulf Harbour service goes, the goal, as it stands, is to secure a service commensurate with the Pine Harbour service in terms of the number of sailings (currently 15 return trips). This intention is included in the Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP), which is the document Auckland Transport is working to.
Regarding the current service provision, we have been told that: AT continues to be in discussion with Fullers around options in the short term. Over recent weeks, Fullers have been successful in responding to AT’s requests for increasing capacity on the route:
Discovery 3 has been increased to 105 seats and Takahe has been increased to 193 providing an additional 63 seats in each morning and afternoon peak.
AT continues to discuss options around providing an additional sailing in the morning peak being generated in the short term, but this is unlikely to provide an immediate solution.
AT also continues to be in discussions with Fullers around improving reliability on the route, and they have indicated that they are considering engineering solutions to the current allocated fleet.
AT are also in discussion with Fullers around what can be done from a capacity perspective for the busier months of March and May of next year.
As always, we’re keen to hear from you, the actual travellers, as to how you’re finding the service. Please reply to this email with any comments you have about the:
any other suggestions
Other than that, thank you all very much for continuing to support the Gulf harbour ferry service.
Merry Christmas and all the very best for the New Year,
John Watson (Albany ward councillor)
Wayne Walker (Albany ward councillor)
Living on the water may seem like a pipe dream to some, but an Auckland developer – in conjunction with a couple of stars from NZ’s The Block stars – are planning on making this dream a reality.
Fairway Bay and Block NZ winners of 2014, Alex and Corban, have set out to create twenty floating homes for the Gulf Harbour, on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour.
Michael Webb-Speight, development consultant for Fairway Bays, says this idea is a natural flow-on from having boats in the marina.
He says the inspiration for the idea is personal.
“My wife does not like to sail the Rangitoto channel. Instead of going with me on our boat out to the channel, she would rather drive. There she will get on board and then enjoy, in a perfectly calm anchorage, a glass of wine in the setting sun.”
Mr Webb-Speight believes there are many families in New Zealand that share the same experiences as himself. Where you can have the best of boating: floating on water, slipping off the side for a swim, or fishing off the back, without all the discomforts.
This idea is not as far-fetched as it may sound. As Fairway Bay owns the sea beds in the Gulf Harbour and it is an already existing marina, the idea proves to be rather easy to go ahead with.
Essentially, the only trick to it is designing a home that can float.
With engineering plans and designs still being played with, the first floating home will be in the marina in April/May next year, Webb-Speight says.
He says the interest in the floating homes has been massive.
“We have almost 300 people signed up on our website which is pretty spectacular. It really is a journey and we are really excited about it.”
So, what would these floating homes look like? Michael explains:
“Think of it as a floating apartment. So, in an apartment building, basically you have a 35sqm cube and then you can add all types of different materials to that cube.
“We [Fairway Bays] will build these little boats which will be the shells of the homes, we will control the exterior look of the shell, and then Alex and Corban are in charge of the interior.”
Alex and Corban are the 2014 winners of The Block NZ and owners of the homeware store ‘Alex & Corban Home’.
The Fairway Bay website has had about 300 people signing up to hear more about the idea, and Webb-Speight says that those who have registered their interest could act as a kind of proxy focus-group for the project.
“So when we want to ask a question that only the market can answer we have got people sitting there that can answer the question for us,” he says. “They have said ‘we are interested’.”
“We think they are extremely valuable in our process because they are interested and they will give us their views.”
The final cost of these floating homes will not be known until the first home is up and floating, says Webb-Speight.
“We are going to launch the first one and then we will be able to define and price the others,” he says.
Buyers of these floating homes will not need titles registered with Land Information New Zealand, says Webb-Speight. Instead, they will have a long-term licence agreement for use of the berth where their house is moored.
Just back from a really great woody weekend. The CYA hosted a gathering at Fairway Bay Marina, Gulf Harbour that saw the boats all rafted up in the ‘gated’ upper lagoon. We were greeted by Grant the marina manager in his tender that made berthing easy for those without bow-thruster. In fact Grant was the perfect host & made the weekend extra special.
I have to say that rafting up & boat hopping is such a cool thing, perfect way to catch up & tell fibs about your boat while enjoying a refreshing .
When I slid Raindance alongside Trinidad the smell was amazing, bread baking – the latest additional to Trinny is a ‘fitted’ bread maker. It doesn’t get much better than waking up to the smell of bread baking.
Nice to see CYA vice chairman Peter Mence mooching around in his rather cute gaff rigged clinker.
After an afternoon of socializing we all went ashore for a BBQ at the marina bar. Nathan Herbert & Jason Prew were the the chefs on the BBQ & did a superb job, its not often I trust someone to cook my thick-cut aged sirloin steak.
Special mention to the CYA members that turned up by road, Sue & Mark Edmonds (Monterey), Ian Miller (Alpheus) & the new owners of Young Nick.
A new housing development is underway in Auckland. But it’s a little different than your average sub-divison. Twenty floating homes are being planned for Gulf Harbour, on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour. Michael Webb-Speight, is a development consultant for the Fairway Bay project.
An artist’s impression of one of the floating houses planned for Gulf Harbour
Many people dream of living by the sea but one developer is taking it a step further.
Twenty floating homes are being planned for Gulf Harbour, on Auckland’s WaitemataHarbour .
The homes will be docked at the Fairway Bay marina and plugged in to water, electrical and sewage systems.
Resource consent has already been granted. Construction is planned to start in early 2016 and the first house is expected to be completed by June.
Fairway Bay development consultant Michael Webb-Speight said it was the first project of its type in New Zealand.
“We thought it was a very cool way to utilise a particularly special part of our little harbour.”
* Eight funky floating homes around the world
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The houses would be about 35sqm and include a kitchen, living space and laundry on the floor level, with a mezzanine and bedroom loft above.
Buyers would not get titles registered with Land Information New Zealand but would instead have a long-term licence agreement for the use of the berth.
Webb-Speight said the exact length of the licence has not yet been determined.
“I think the market will probably tell us how long it’s got to be.”
He said the houses would be ideal holiday homes for professional couples, or retreats for artists.
Husband-and-wife duo Alex and Corban Walls, last year’s winners of the TV show The Block NZ, have been contracted to produce the first home and design customised interiors for the buyers.
Corban Walls said they were hard at work on the design.
“The floating part will be a concrete pontoon to provide a stable base with long-term durability, the same technology used for marina pontoons.”
The price for each home has not yet been set.
“That’s really something which will be determined by the cost structure and specifications, and by the market, given that this is a unique product with no match anywhere else in New Zealand,” Webb-Speight said.
Owners of the Boat Sheds will have a long-term licence agreement for use of the berth where their house is moored
Floating houses will be built and docked in Gulf Harbour development as a novel way of beating rising land prices.
Floating houses are planned for Gulf Harbour, north of Auckland.
In what appears to be a novel solution to the city’s tightly constrained land supply and sky-rocketing prices, construction of The Boat Sheds project will begin in the New Year, answering the desire for waterfront location living.
Michael Webb-Speight, a development consultant to the Fairway Bay project, said Auckland’s population was increasing fast and houses on the water were an obvious solution.
“With land and property becoming scarcer, we need to find ways to better use the water that surrounds the city and we believe this is part of the solution. Many Kiwis dream of living near the water but this takes that to the extreme – living on top of the water in a floating home,” he said, citing a BBC report quoting development experts saying on-the-water communities could be a more sustainable, affordable and safer option than building on land.
But deputy mayor Penny Hulse expressed reservations.
“The idea of floating houses could have a negative impact on our coastal areas and will have to be carefully considered,” she said.
Twenty houses will be docked at the Fairway Bay marina but buyers will not get titles registered in the usual way with Land Information New Zealand. Instead, they will have a long-term licence agreement for use of the berth where their house is moored.
Mr Webb-Speight thinks many will treat the place more as a holiday home.
“We see the target buyers as those who are looking for a weekend retreat. Just like a regular live-aboard cruising boat, these dwellings will be buoyant platforms which are docked and plugged into the electrical grid, water and sewage services.”
He said prices were yet to be set.
Plans are for the houses to be tiny, at just 35sq m. A mezzanine floor or loft will maximise floor areas.
Consent has been granted. “It was part of the resource consent obtained to build the marina. We hope to complete the first Boat Shed around April or May next year. What makes our location special is that we own the sea bed. It’s part of an integrated marina development plan with an approved resource consent and we have the infrastructure surrounding the location in place.”
Mark McGuinness, managing director of Willis Bond which is developing luxury Wynyard Quarter apartments, said the late Sir Ian Athfield had suggested “branches” of floating houses off Wellington’s former Overseas Passenger Terminal – now the Clyde Quay Wharf where Willis Bond developed 76 apartments in a $170 million project. But that idea was rejected.
“In practice, it would not work because there were shipping and navigation issues,” Mr McGuinness said.
“Anything’s possible. But it comes down to cost and detail. I’d question the appropriateness of housing in a marina environment because marinas are for boats.”