Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Council proposal aims to put brakes on port expansion

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is promoting the 11th-hour move to insert the rule into the draft Unitary Plan this week. Photo / Richard Robinson
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is promoting the 11th-hour move to insert the rule into the draft Unitary Plan this week. Photo / Richard Robinson

The Auckland Council is set to put the brakes this week on Ports of Auckland expanding its operations any further into the Waitemata Harbour.

The council is expected to follow up Mayor Len Brown's call for a conversation about the future of the port with a new rule making any further reclamation in the port precinct a "non-complying" activity.

The rule would make it extremely difficult for Ports of Auckland to implement its latest plans to expand up to 179m into the harbour.

However, the rule will be reviewed once Mr Brown's conversation - a study he called for two weeks ago into the wider impacts of port expansion for the rest of the city - is concluded.

At that stage, the council will decide what, if any, changes to make in the new planning rulebook for the city, or Unitary Plan.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse is promoting the 11th-hour move to insert the rule into the draft Unitary Plan this week, saying the status quo provisions provided for a huge amount of reclamation.

She said the proposed rule was a response to the huge amount of public feedback about the port expansion plans, which have been scrutinised by a Herald series this month and the subject of a fresh campaign by the Heart of the City lobby group to have a rethink.

Ms Hulse has the backing of Mr Brown, and is expected to gain support from a majority of councillors when the port issue is discussed by the Auckland Plan committee, which meets for three days from Wednesday to wrap up the draft Unitary Plan for formal notification.

Once the study was done, she said, the council would come up with a more sensible plan for the port that could still allow for some reclamation.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said the council was going down the right path.

"Do the study and see where it leads us before we go giving away any more of our waterfront," he said.

Last month, councillors considered five port options for the Unitary Plan at a workshop held behind closed doors. They did not consider a total "non-complying" option.

It is understood the preferred option would have made some of the port precinct a "non-complying" activity but still allowed Ports of Auckland to expand Bledisloe Wharf up to 179m into the harbour.

Ports of Auckland could not be reached for comment.

Latest port moves

*Council set to make it harder for ports to reclaim the harbour.
*Mayor Len Brown setting up study into wider impacts on the city.
*Study will lead to final planning rules for port
*Public feedback on latest expansion plans leading to harder line.

- NZ Herald

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