The contentious issue of ownership of the Hammerhead in Gulf Harbour – which includes the ferry terminal, parking and a public boat ramp – has surfaced again as Auckland Council seeks to re-start negotiations with the land’s leaseholder.
Council has been looking at how to secure control of the Hammerhead since 2011 and has tried before to negotiate a deal with Gulf Harbour Marina Holdings, which has a lease over the site until 2088.
Three “information sessions” were held recently by the Council CCO Panuku Development (which handles property acquisition, management and sales for Council). The meetings were to present the option that Panuku wishes to put before Council for approval next month, before opening discussions again with the leaseholder.
Around 100 people attended the meeting on May 21, including both local councillors Wayne Walker and John Watson and Hibiscus & Bays Local Board members Julia Parfitt, Janet Fitzgerald and Caitlin Watson.
Many of those attending were berth holders and it was clear that feelings run high, and there is considerable distrust of both Council and the lessee.
Panuku portfolio strategy manager Marian Webb said the proposal Panuku favours is to surrender Council’s lease rights over the marina land in return for the lease right to the Hammerhead. The difference in value of the two sites means that Panuku will be expecting payment from the leaseholder as well as surrender of the Hammerhead lease.
She said the leaseholder has indicated willingness to look at this deal.
Marian said other options considered included acquiring the Hammerhead without trading the other lots, or use of the Public Works Act. However, she said these were not feasible because of the cost, and legal advice that land cannot be taken under the Public Works Act for recreational use (although it can for transport use).
Comments made at the meeting, and a show of hands indicated that the deal presented was not acceptable and that more options should be put before the public and fully consulted on.
A chief concern was losing control over the marina land, which berth holders require for parking, and the potential for construction on that site. The zoning means that a Private Plan Change or notified resource consent would be required to build on the marina land.
Berth Holders Association president Robert Allsopp-Smith describes privitisation of the marina land, which is reclaimed foreshore and seabed, as the thin end of the wedge. “There is support for the Hammerhead to be returned to Council control but the disquiet is about how to achieve that,” he says. “The proposed exchange is not the way to do it and the only sensible thing is for Council to listen to the public and come up with two or three solutions that are acceptable to the community.”
Crs Watson and Walker, and local board member Caitlin Watson agree. “Ultimately the priority is to secure the Hammerhead which would be good for ferry service,” Caitlin says. “But I want to ensure that any alternative ways of doing that are pursued because of community concerns about the current proposal.”