Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Civic split looms on future of 'world's best urban beach'

Chris Darby. Photo / Dean Purcell
Chris Darby. Photo / Dean Purcell

The "best urban beach in the world", Takapuna, should be given to a body like Waterfront Auckland to develop, says Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby.

Huge plans for the redevelopment and intensification of the beach area have got Mr Darby and others worried about how Auckland Council is going about balancing growth and protection of the natural coastal environment.

"The blow-torch is on Takapuna," says Mr Darby, referring to the suburb's raised status in the Super City's Auckland Plan as a "metro centre" for market-led residential intensification and business growth.

Mr Darby said Takapuna was the best urban beach in the world and needed the best urban design to succeed and get buy-in from the community.

The most sensitive test for Takapuna - and a big test of Mayor Len Brown's vision for a high-quality, compact city - is the plan between the council and a handful of private landowners to turn the shopping strip on Hurstmere Rd to face the beach.

Multimillionaire John Copson has announced a $250 million development with apartments, shops, cafes, a business hotel and carparks on a large 1ha site he owns at 53 to 73 Hurstmere Rd before planning rules have been set for the land.

Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley, who has been briefed on the Copson plan, does not see the need to involve Waterfront Auckland in Takapuna.

Neither does Mr Brown, who believes Takapuna has good bones but that work is needed on improving the relationship between the main street and the beach. He does, however, question "what is the best governance model" for Takapuna.

Dr Blakeley said Takapuna was being managed by the council's city transformation team, a "can-do" team with plenty of expertise led by regional and local planning manager Penny Pirrit. It would also take a law change for Waterfront Auckland to broaden its jurisdiction to include Takapuna, he said.

But a council source said it would be silly not to involve Waterfront Auckland. The council-owned body had a lot of expertise and strengths that could add value to Takapuna.

"There is a sense of trust in Waterfront Auckland and a bit of pride with what they have done already," said the source. "Do people trust the Auckland Council with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and does the council have the right skills and access to the right information to make Takapuna reach its potential?"

Sally Hughes, of Save Our St Heliers, which feels hoodwinked by council planners over character status for the seaside suburb, said Takapuna residents would be well advised to insist that they were part of the process from very early on.

Yesterday, Dr Blakeley said the council was talking actively with property owners about the general direction for Takapuna but there were no deals taking place about the rules for Takapuna.

"The process of developing the rules will be a public process and there will be consultation with the local board and the community," he said.

The draft rules for Takapuna, part of the new unitary plan for Auckland, are expected to be made public in June or July.

The Auckland Plan envisages Takapuna's current population of 4000 residents and 10,000 workers increasing to 15,000 residents and 15,000 workers by 2040.

INTENSIFICATION

* Takapuna set for large-scale redevelopment.
* $250 million development facing the beach planned.
* Development rules still to be made public.
* Council says no place for involving Waterfront Auckland.

Who do you think should be in charge of planning for Takapuna?

Email newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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