Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Auckland's bid for Viaduct land hits snag

By WAYNE THOMPSON

The Auckland City Council's bid to get free land at the Viaduct Harbour for a marine events centre is under threat after a former ally called for a fresh debate on the land's future.

The North Shore City Council is asking six other councils in the region to join its opposition to Auckland City's claim on the area of Halsey St known as syndicate row.

The area is owned by America's Cup Village Ltd, a subsidiary of publicly owned Infrastructure Auckland.

Auckland City says the land, valued at between $41 million and $56 million, should be transferred to it for no charge to ensure it becomes a marine events centre instead of apartments.

On July 23, North Shore councillors supported the takeover by its neighbour across the harbour.

But councillor Tony Holman - upset at Auckland City Mayor John Banks' call to bring back Harbour Bridge tolls - has persuaded his council to revoke its decision.

Mr Holman said it was inappropriate for the land to go to Auckland City without Infrastructure Auckland being compensated.

Although everyone wanted the land to stay in public ownership, he said, the debate had a a long way to go before Auckland City was chosen as the right body to look after that public interest.

The Auckland Regional Council was a strong contender for that role because of its stewardship of parkland.

Mr Holman said the next step was to ask other councils to join a bid to make Auckland City pay "a reasonable negotiated amount", which could be spent on the region's transport problems.

He believed there would be support from at least the ARC and the Waitakere City and Franklin District Councils.

Last month, these councils instructed their representatives on the electoral college of Infrastructure Auckland to vote against the land and waterspace being vested in Auckland City or a charitable trust. The vote favoured Auckland City.

North Shore representative Dianne Hale was unable to vote while her council was pondering Mr Holman's request.

The result of the vote had been considered by the Infrastructure Auckland board, said its spokesman Brendan Mosely.

An evaluation of the marine event centre would have to be made before the board next discussed the issue in October.

He said the board was obliged by law to seek public comment on any decision to transfer the assets of America's Cup Village.

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