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First of all it is important that I declare my position on this project, even though most will know it well. I am a huge supporter of converting the land currently occupied by the camp ground into public space. At present, this land is leased to a business and Joe public can not use it unless money changes hand. In some ways I do understand the nostalgia around the camp ground. But I don't believe that's enough to preserve it. What I am keen on is public space that we can all enjoy and a high performance facility for our yachties. This fits with my desire to see Takapuna progress. We have some of the best sailing grounds in the world right off our beach and we have an opportunity now to establish a centre of yachting excellence – like rowing and cycling has in Cambridge – that will be a huge benefit for our community in the years ahead. I also recently joined the Harbour Access Trust as a Trustee and am keen to see us unlock the potential of our waterfront asset to secure a bright future for Takapuna. So yes I am biased.
I believe these new plans for the Northern Activity Zone site by the Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand are sensational. They do fit into the compromise category. There was no doubt that the public have had their say on the land and this has necessitated changes to the original plans. The impressive design which maximises green space, was commissioned following feedback on the original proposal for the Northern reserve. There is a desire by many for greater public access to a key part of the North Shore coastline, a strong adherence to the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management plan and a community marine activity hub that can be enjoyed by all ages and abilities are the key elements within a revised plan proposed for the Northern Activity Zone.
In releasing the new concept plans the Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand stated they were created to meet the requirements set out in the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan and to foster a sense ownership within the local community, the marine community hub retains the beach’s distinctive natural beauty while opening large areas of previously inaccessible land for public use.
“We have listened to the feedback from the community and stakeholders and taken it into account the intent of the Council’s Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan,” says Harbour Access Trust's Peter Wall.
“The result is a new design which we believe will considerably enhance the reserve and cater for the best community outcomes all round. There are many elements within the reserve management plan but it is an absolute priority for us what we put forward matches what the Auckland Council has planned for the area.
“The reserve management plan was developed with the best outcome for Takapuna Beach and all the communities that use it, which is why it has played such a significant role in the redevelopment of our plans. We want to share this plan with the public and invite feedback."
The revised plan sees the proposed marine hub facility, which is located to the rear of the site, featuring a clever design with a publicly accessible rooftop comprised of grass, timber and materials reflecting the coastal environment and providing additional public access and viewing areas.
On a considerably reduced footprint from the original plan and reduced in height to a single level, the Community storage and High Performance facility has very little impact on the reserve from a space or visual perspective.
The demand for active recreation space along Takapuna beach is also a key provision within the reserve management plan. The plan outlines calls from Takapuna locals to enhance the space with improved access for strollers, walkers and push chairs.
The proposed marine activity hub addresses this with enhanced green reserve space, which will provide for flexible use, with informal and formal water sports as well as a relaxing and safe environment for families.
The new plan provides improved access to the water and to storage for local sailors, kayakers and Waka ama as well as toilet, changing and showering facilities. North Shore residents and visitors would be able to picnic or barbeque on the open green spaces and use the public facilities. They will be able to enjoy the close, uninterrupted visual spectacle of the coastline or see Waka ama and sailors training and rigging boats, or children and adults learning to sail.
Around 10 per cent of the reserve footprint would house the marine activity hub which will also accommodate the relocated Takapuna Boating Club storage shed. The facility is cleverly tucked into the north western corner of the site close to the aligning streets thus greatly reducing the visual impact of the facility.
The design opens up access from the street, helping to connect the northern walkway and beach.
“This careful design will connect people safely from the main beach to the northern reserve,” says Peter Wall.
Pedestrians and neighbours will have the opportunity to look over the distinctive planted and grassed space and enjoy an uninterrupted view to the northern beach and water.
The reserve management plan notes that Takapuna Beach plays an important role in providing access for water related activities including Waka ama, yachting, rowing, sea kayaking, wind surfing and fishing . The beach is also host to a number of events including those of national and international status.
The community marine hub will meet all of these requirements and also comprise a high performance sailing base for New Zealand’s top yachtsmen and women, seeking to add more gold medals to the country’s medal tally at Olympic Games and world championships.
“It will also be a hub for aspiring sailors of all ages from around New Zealand, just as Karapiro is for rowing, biking and triathlon, with the added bonus of green open spaces for the public to inhabit and use for recreation as well as to enjoy the coastline or watch the many on-water activities,” says Mr Wall.
A dedicated hardstand area for the Waka ama and yachts will further enhance community interaction and access to the reserve and help reduce congestion on the reserve.
The Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand are supporting the concept of retaining the remainder of the reserve as open green space for the public. If the plans are approved, then the Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand would work with the Local Board and Auckland Council to complete the reserve.
“This is absolutely consistent with the Council’s Reserve Management Plan with its key objective of retaining as much open green spaces for the public as possible,” adds Peter Wall.
“The plan we are proposing provides a unique opportunity to enhance public access to a prime part of the wonderful North Shore coastline that has until now remained relatively inaccessible, as well as creating a marine hub which can be enjoyed by all.
Peter Wall says it has been a journey to get to this point in terms of bringing the vision for the reserve to life and creating a facility that the local community and all of New Zealand can be proud of.
The Local Board has carried out an independent site evaluation which clearly identifies the Northern Activity Zone as the most suitable site for what would be a world class training facility, while also accommodating the needs of the wider community. While this is one of several reserves along the beach it is the only suitable level site.
Being sensitive to local community views and taking on feedback from neighbours, community groups and from the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan hearings has resulted in significant changes to the proposed plans for the site that were tabled during those hearings by the Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand. The changes include: Reducing the facility in height from two storeys to one level; Reducing the overall footprint of the facility which now covers approximately only 10 per cent of the available reserve; Relocating the administration functions of Yachting New Zealand from the proposal and instead locating these in a commercial building elsewhere in Takapuna along with leased parking at a separate location.
”We are now at a point where we want to share the revised plan and engage with stakeholders and interested parties as we intend to lodge what will be a fully notified Resource Consent application in the New Year,” says Peter Wall.
“We recognise the sensitive nature of the reserve and opinions of the local community and neighbours and believe the new design responds to the feedback we have received with the outcome being an amazing outlook and enhanced views from street level."
So there it is folks, I believe a great plan. This is an opportunity we in Takapuna must not let slip through our fingers. Peter Wall adds that the Harbour Access Trust and Yachting New Zealand plan to run community information meetings and remain open to further discussion and welcome public feedback.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 50 December 2014 | January 2015