Te Arai Beach carpark to stay after last-minute backtrack

Developers backtracked after planning to move the carpark next to Te Arai Beach, near Mangawhai Heads. Photo / Supplied
Developers backtracked after planning to move the carpark next to Te Arai Beach, near Mangawhai Heads. Photo / Supplied

A developer has backtracked on its plans to move a beachside carpark after the community voiced concerns it would make beach access more difficult.

Philanthropist and author Christine Fernyhough said families had always gone to Black Swamp, Te Arai Beach, near Mangawhai Heads to walk, play, surf, swim and fish.

About two weeks ago she heard developers had told Auckland Council they wanted to take over the carpark next to the beach.

That would mean beach-goers, including the young, old and disabled, would have to park 300m from the beach.

"The existing road - Pacific Rd and the existing car park by the beach - is just fine, where it is, how it is, natural and comfortable on the edge of the dunes - at the beach," said Mrs Fernyhough.

Mrs Fernyhough believed beach access was a right for New Zealanders.

"Public access to our beaches matters," she said.

She spoke on the issue at the Auckland Council's Parks, Recreation and Sports Board meeting recently.

Auckland Council general manager of parks, sport and recreation, Mace Ward, said the proposal to move the car park at Te Arai north was part of wider development and management plans for the area.

The land was Treaty settlement land and was enabled by a district plan change some time ago for a limited number of home sites not visible from the beach along with protection of 216ha of land vested in council for conservation, ecological and public benefit.

A proposal had showed a carpark moving inland from its current site, said Mr Ward.

There were a number of reasons for the move, including the protection of the dunes and nearby fairy tern population and ensuring the area could be cleared of pines and revegetated in native plants in accordance with the plan change, said Mr Ward.

The Pacific Rd, which had been used to access the beach for many years, was private land and not a public road. Public access had been allowed by way of a Crown easement.

At a recent Parks, Recreation and Sport Committee meeting councillors heard a deputation from the Save Te Arai group.

In the two days since that meeting, developer Te Arai North Limited, which is the joint venture with Te Uri O Hau iwi, and Mr Ward had worked together on a proposal that would retain all modes of access to the beach at the current carpark and maintain and enhance ecological, conservation and recreational values of the area.

Mr Ward said that proposal would be shared with the community liaison group at a meeting next week.

"We and Te Arai North Limited have worked very quickly to come up with a proposal that we believe will satisfy the concerns around access presented to us by the Save Te Arai group."

Te Aria North Limited spokesman David Lewis said the company was proposing to shift the carpark as a requirement as part of the plan change allowing for development.

People in the community thought that would impede on their access to the beach, which was never the intention.

The company had had a rethink about the configuration of things and the carpark would stay where it was, he said.

It would updated the community on its new proposal next week and hoped everybody would be happy with it.

Mrs Fernyhough was pleased the carpark would stay put and now hoped the car park and road to it would become public.

NZME kf

- NZ Herald

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