Auckland Council’s proposed compromise for reducing erosion and protecting native tree roots along a popular parking spot – The Esplanade on Manly Beach – was revealed last week.
The original plan, last October, of putting 300 bollards along the beachfront between Manly Sailing Club and Cross Street to restrict beachside parking proved controversial when it was revealed in Hibiscus Matters, and was scuppered by vocal community opposition.
Two petitions – one for and one against the bollards – were started and public consultation similarly revealed views were strongly split, with around 43 percent in support and 56 percent opposed to the proposal.
Those in favour felt that the most important thing was to protect the dunes against further erosion, while those against were worried about the loss of parking, and that overflow parking could put pressure on nearby residential streets.
Council went back to the drawing board, discussing the issue in workshops and meeting local board members on site in May to work out a compromise.
Just one option was put before the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board for approval at its meeting on July 21. Technological problems plagued the meeting, which was only accessible online. As a result, several members of the public (and Hibiscus Matters’ journalist) who had wanted to attend the meeting were unable to do so.
Council’s report on the bollards said that after considering public feedback and the views of local board members, staff were recommending the installation of around 215 bollards along The Esplanade in areas where there is the most damage to the dunes, and to limit parking on the tree roots.
The new design puts ground protection and bollards around several pohutukawa trees to protect their roots from damage, while leaving space for parking.
Cars will not be able to park on the section just before Cross Street, as this will be completely bollarded off and re-grassed. This is a reduction of around eight car parks.
There are no changes proposed for the section of The Esplanade between Cross Street and Beach Road, so parking there remains as it is.
Local board chair Gary Brown said members have been lobbied by both sides since the original plan first surfaced in Hibiscus Matters last October, and as with any compromise, not everyone will be happy or get exactly what they want.
He says the option, which was unanimously approved by the board, strikes a balance between continuing to provide some car parking, while protecting the reserve for current and future generations to enjoy.
The board also asked Auckland Transport to investigate improvements to the road surface of The Esplanade “to bring it up to an acceptable standard and to provide further parking in the road reserve.”
After the initial work of installing the bollards was disrupted by community action last year, Council staff are planning to manage public access while the work takes place.
The report states that “possible disturbance by members of the public during the installation can be managed through site fencing and traffic management onsite, before and during the installation of bollards”.
“However, there is the risk that the bollards will be damaged once they have been installed,” the report warns.
The total budget for this work, of $45,018, was approved by the local board. The budget covers the public engagement process and design as well as the cost of materials and installation of the bollards. Most of the material was sourced in 2021, however, the report notes that additional bollards are needed which could delay the work by several weeks.
Subject to obtaining those materials, it is anticipated that the process of putting in the bollards will begin sometime between August and October.
As no additional parking is being made available, once the bollards are installed council staff will monitor the effect on car parking on The Esplanade and surrounding streets. If serious issues are being caused, the car parking situation will be reviewed, the council report says.