Demolition of giant storage tanks is the first sign of progress in the largest waterfront development in the history of Auckland.
The tanks have been used since the mid-1970s at the BP Lubricants Auckland production centre at Wynyard Pt, also known as the Tank Farm.
In 2000, dozens of grey and white tanks linked to kilometres of piping from tanker wharves supplied several big oil companies.
But pressure for changing the harbour's industrial backdrop has resulted in 6.5ha of oil companies' infrastructure being cleared from the 35ha peninsula from Fanshawe St to the waterfront. BP is now sourcing products directly from overseas.
A further 3.5ha of tank sites remain and leases to bulk liquid storage companies still have years to run.
The 20- to 25-year plan for Wynyard Pt redevelopment is being managed by Sea+City Project for Auckland Regional Holdings in conjunction with Auckland City and Auckland Regional Councils.
Demolition of tanks, piping and buildings at BP along Jellicoe and Daldy Sts is visible progress in changing the area, said project director John Dalzell.
But less obvious work was going on to change the look and feel of the area to the public. Rebuilding the sea wall under the North Wharf was about to start.
Mr Dalzell said the project was in touch with Transit NZ, which is looking at options for future harbour crossings that include a tunnel under the spine of the Tank Farm.
The project was also entering a more detailed phase of planning arising from consultation with the marine industry and other parties.
Design work was proceeding on the new roading layout, public plaza spaces and a water space, which could retain and treat stormwater and merge into the boat harbour at the western end via a lock.
Mr Dalzell said BP would test its site to ensure contaminated residue was cleared from the lubricant plant site, the last of its type operating in the country. The leased site would revert to the project's control by mid-year.
It would then be offered for short-term use before reconfigured sites in the precinct were offered to the market for leasehold redevelopment.
Building heights have emerged as one of the most controversial issues in rezoning the marine industrial precinct into a mix of public open space, and commercial and residential buildings over the next 25 years.
In April-May public hearings will be held on proposed changes to the city's District Plan and the Auckland Regional Plan (coastal) to allow urban renewal on the Wynyard Quarter.
Regional council contaminated land management officials said they were working with leaseholders and the project company to ensure any future development and long-term discharges were lawful.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
* March: Rebuilding of sea wall under the North Wharf; talks with Transit NZ about future harbour crossing route options; designing of layout of streets, water space, public plaza space.
* April-May: Hearings of nearly 700 submissions on proposed plan changes, including controversial building heights.
* Mid-2009: Contamination-free Tank Farm sites offered for leasehold private development.