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As readers will be well aware I am a huge fan of progress for Takapuna. For too long the area has suffered from a lack of progress that has meant that many of the amenities that a special place like this deserves have been lacking.
I am proud, therefore, to be involved in a couple of initiatives that will go a long way to correct that.
The first is the world class all ages playground that will be built on Gould Reserve towards the second half of the year. Thanks largely to the generosity and energy of local couple Jackie Kerridge and Chris Reeves. Being a trustee and playing a part in assisting with this project has been very rewarding. Our aim is to have it built by next summer.
The second is the Community Marine Activity Hub project for the northern reserve of Takapuna Beach. While I respect that there are those who wish to retain the campground, for a variety of reasons, I am not one of those. I am keen for the land to be returned to the public as a reserve and to also be used for water sports activities. This makes so much sense.
I believe that the plans that have recently been lodged for a resource consent by the Harbour Access Trust (HAT) – which I am a trustee of – are superb. Some time ago, prior to my involvement, plans were unveiled for a much bigger structure on the site. Since that time HAT have listened to public feedback and the plans have been substantially changed to the point where the building structure takes up around 8.4% of the site and virtually the entire area is public space. Even the roof of the structure is public space, enhancing the views and access from the two streets above. It is a great compromise.
I live close to Takapuna Beach and spend a great deal of time on the beach and I have a problem with the campground. The campground is on public land, and unless the public pay money they can not use the land. It is leased to a private operator. Therefore I don't accept the arguments of those who want to retain it. I am also not sure of the economic benefits to Takapuna. What I do know, however, is that the beach and park areas attract visitors from wide and far. I challenge you to go to Takapuna Beach – Gould Reserve and the beach – any fine day or weekend and study the people who are enjoying the special environment. I tell you they come from all walks of life. You can walk through the park and along the beach and hear several different accents or languages that are representative of the changing face of our city. I believe these people to be a combination of locals, those who live in the wider Auckland region and visitors who all recognise how special Takapuna is.
What HAT is essentially advocating is unlocking this land on the northern reserve for use by all the public. And combining this with a facility for marine activity. This will also include enhanced amenities for all to use – toilets, showers and changing facilities. And what a fantastic flat public reserve we will have on an area that we can't currently use. The concept fits perfectly with the Takapuna Beach Reserve Management Plan.
I do acknowledge that public feedback has played an important part in moderating the plans. Now I urge you all to consider what I have outlined and have a good look at the very special plans HAT has for the site. It is very easy to simply oppose progress and those who are opposing this project and advocating keeping the land locked up as a campground have certainly done a good job in influencing public opinion.
My challenge to you is to go online and view the plans that HAT has lodged for resource consent. If you share my fondness for them, then you can make a very simple online submission to support. Contrary to lots of the publicity you will hear this is a great result for the public. This is a great result for those who use the area for marine activity. And most importantly this is a great result for the future of Takapuna.
How good is it going to be when we have Auckland's best all ages playground in Takapuna on Gould Reserve and this wonderful public space and marine hub on the northern reserve? Both developed with energy and funding arranged by locals for locals – without sitting back and waiting for council to do it for us. If we wait my guess is neither will happen.
Have a great April – Aidan Bennett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Channel Magazine: Issuu 53 April 2015