Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Brown targets cheap baches

Popular beach houses become part of mayor's drive to wipe $2.6 million from rates bill.

A council bach at Wenderholm. Photo / Supplied
A council bach at Wenderholm. Photo / Supplied

Modest rentals for beach houses and baches on Auckland Council parks are under pressure from Mayor Len Brown's drive to wipe $2.6 million from the rates bill.

The 18 coastal buildings, which came with farms bought by the former Auckland Regional Council, are in the "Bach Escapes" network available for the public to book since 2006.

Dating from the 1930s they have been refurbished to reflect the simple beach life of a bygone era.

The council hires them out for between $94 and $141 a night, depending whether it is the peak or non-peak season.

But Mr Brown will ask the council today to consider raising fees to counter cuts to the council's lifestyle and culture budget.

The request notes that fees are set at "very modest levels for this standard of accommodation and are always oversubscribed".

Parks, heritage and recreation forum chairman Sandra Coney said yesterday that she hoped to offer an alternative to the proposal to increase fees by 10 per cent in the off-peak season and 20 per cent in the peak season.

A fees increase was contrary to the Auckland Plan.

"I am concerned about the impact on accessibility by families. We don't want to put barriers in their way.

"The baches are heavily booked - some more than others - and they are returning income to the council and are self-funding."

Ms Coney said the popularity of the baches made them a target for attempts to squeeze more revenue from them.

But the people expected to pay more would include youth groups who used the baches as bases for walking the park tracks.

The council's 18th refurbished bach was opened in Puhoi near Wenderholm Regional Park last month and another is being prepared at Tapapakanga, near Maraetai.

The three most popular bach stays are at Scandrett, Tawharanui and Wenderholm on the region's north-east coast.

Susan O'Connor, who runs Matakana Country Lodge, about 25 minutes' drive from Tawharanui, said the council should hold the rate at $141 a night for the three-bedroom house.

"I think it is a great rate but a fair one. I'd hate to see them go up because it means families may not be able to afford to stay in this gorgeous location.

"Other types of holiday accommodation charge twice the price."

Separate rooms at the lodge were from $250 to $350 a night.

The Wenderholm Regional Park beach house was a "stone's throw" from a white sandy beach and is set among trees.

Next to the park, at Waiwera, a private beach house costs $250 a night for up to eight guests, said Kathy White, of Devonport Holiday Houses.

Council beach houses

$141 a night peak season
$94 midweek off peak
18 baches.
3 top locations: Scandrett, Tawharanui and Wenderholm
10 per cent to 20 per cent rent rise proposed.

- NZ Herald

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