Property editor of the NZ Herald

Council not trusted: marine chief

After 12 years of talking, industry boss says he doesn't back local body to follow through with Hobsonville plan.

The council's strategy and finance committee voted on May 1 to give the marine industry more time to consider moving. Photo / Natalie Slade
The council's strategy and finance committee voted on May 1 to give the marine industry more time to consider moving. Photo / Natalie Slade

A marine industry chief says his sector has shunned Hobsonville's Yard 37 development because it distrusts Auckland Council.

Mark Power, managing director of Henleys Propellers & Marine, Pacific Driveline and Kiwi Shaft Seal, said spending money putting up a building in the designated marine precinct was a gamble because the council owns the land.

"We would go to Yard 37 if there was progress in establishing the facilities that enable our marine business to function," Power said.

"For us to move, we would need to commit to construction of a new building. Where would it go? There are no roads. How would we function? There are no haul-out facilities.

"All we see is a drawing that can be changed by the whim of council."

He was responding after last month's Auckland Council Property revelations that $30 million had been poured into the precinct, where only one company had set up despite a prediction it would attract 20 businesses.

The council's strategy and finance committee voted on May 1 to give the marine industry more time to consider moving, otherwise it could ear-mark the 20ha site for housing, with a large affordable component.

"The marine industry has indicated that it is not in a position to commit to the project at the present time," Leonie Freeman of Crest Consultancy said. "This future-proofing option provides an opportunity for Auckland Council to illustrate commitment to the marine sector for a defined period but making it clear that it is up to the marine industry to prove demand for a marine industry precinct."

David Rankin, Auckland Council Property chief executive, also revealed last month that more than $1.6 million had been spent on consultants.

Power said such schemes were often political footballs.

"After 12 years of talking with nothing to show from our marine industry's point of view we do not trust the council to follow through with the plan," he said.

Only one business went there - even though the marine sector indicated it needed such a precinct - because his sector was gun-shy.

"This project should have been up and running nine years ago. Would you trust your business viability to a group of people that have put you on standby for 12 years? From our industry's point of view, all we see is a very expensive drawing," he said.

Meanwhile, across town at the Westhaven marine precinct near the CBD, Stephen Harris of Auckland Engineering Supplies at 154 Beaumont St is facing a 30 per cent leasehold land rent hike.

"Everyone seems to think working on superyachts is lucrative but it is very competitive and we risk pricing ourselves off the market," Harris said.

"The previous council created a marine rating precinct to help protect this industry but the new council is ignoring this and forcing it back to arbitration and even more cost to ratepayers and businesses."

As for Hobsonville, he said the marine sector had shunned Yard 37 because it was too far from Auckland's heart, where captains and crew aboard visiting vessels liked to be.

Difficulties getting yachts from the waterfront up to Hobsonville was another reason. "The boat ramp at Hobsonville is also buggered. It was built for flying boats," he said.

Yard 37

*Located at a latitude of 37 degrees south.
*20ha of almost vacant Hobsonville land.
*Council wanted world-class marine precinct.
*But marine sector has stayed away.
*Housing options now being examined.

- NZ Herald

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