Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Water sports centre plan to be aired

Takapuna Beach camp ground. Photo / APN
Takapuna Beach camp ground. Photo / APN

Plans to build an $8 million National Ocean Water Sports Centre on a new site - the Takapuna Beach camping ground - will be aired at a public open day on Sunday.

Since the centre for high-performance training was promoted by Sports Minister Murray McCully and former North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams in 2010, its site has shifted.

A central site above the beach at The Strand, near Takapuna Boating Club, has been dismissed after concern about interference with prime public strolling and picnic space.

Instead, Auckland Council has offered a site further north on the reserve which will be free when the 80-year-old camping ground's lease expires next March.

The council issued the lease 10 years ago without right of renewal, after a reserve management review found public opinion was for open space rather than cabins and caravans.

However, a fresh council review of reserves along Takapuna beach has again raised the issue of whether the camping ground should stay - and boaties are caught in the backwash.

"It's not a case of Camping Ground v National Ocean Water Sports Centre," said John Sandford, of the Harbour Access Trust, which has responsibility for setting up the centre.

"The council already decided the camping ground was going and offered this site anyway."

The plans for the centre, by architecture firm Warren and Mahoney, cover 40 per cent of the future public reserve. The building would be tucked into the terrace of Alison St on the inland side of the camping ground.

"This provides the best benefit for the community by leaving all the space in front for wider public use while allowing the top of the building to be used for parking - you can drive in from Alison St," said Mr Sandford.

About a third of the undercover storage for small boats would be offered to the public or used by the Takapuna-based triathlon activities.

The centre would not interfere with the Takapuna Boating Club's existing shed for its tractor and rescue craft nor the lease to Ngati Whatua O Orakei Maori Trust Board for waka ama storage.

Yachting New Zealand's offices would take the head lease of a new building on the corner of Earnoch Ave and Allison which would not exceed 8m, or two-storey, with one level below the street.

"People ask why spend $8 million when just a shed would do," said Mr Sandford.

"But because Takapuna will be hosting more small-boat international events and triathlons, it's ridiculous to take such an iconic space and put up a boring building. We will be providing the best facilities for athletes."

The council's draft reserve management plan, which is open to public submissions until 4.30pm on September 11, has so far drawn 200 submissions.

It has two options for the northern reserve, next to the public boat ramp.

The first option is for the camping ground to be dedicated to marine activities and a larger area of public space.

The second option provides 28 spaces for a self-service motor home overnight park as well as a marine activities hub and a big public lawn.

- NZ Herald

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