Panuku Development Auckland will consult next month on the possible sale of part of a West Auckland marina to a developer who has released new images showing how the area could look.

"A public engagement process will be held in June," Panuku said of the proposal from Hobsonville Marina - part of Simon Herbert's Empire Capital business - which in 2013 told Auckland Council it wanted to buy part of the Westpark or Hobsonville Marina at West Harbour.

Council-owned land outlined in red.
Council-owned land outlined in red.

Talk of the sale of around 3.5ha has drawn strong opposition including from Upper Harbour Board member Brian Neeson, who said last year he did not agree with the way the proposal was first presented to the board as a confidential item.

Herbert's business already controls the marina and like at the North Shore's Bayswater, wants to develop the area and expand, following Unitary Plan provisions to encourage intensification around major transport nodes like marinas.


David Boersen, Empire development manager, told the Herald the deal should go ahead, saying it offered significant benefits.

"Our proposal is premised on key objectives enabling some further housing. It will provide for the continuing operation of the marina, its future expansion, expansion of marine industrial area for boat servicing, new public access along marina front, increased public ferry parking, better connectivity from parking to ferry, provide for apartment development and enable housing," Boersen said.

He released new images of how the area could look once apartments rise. The image showed a curved boardwalk beside the marina, public seating in front of landscaped areas, glass balustrades on apartment decks and a multi-level cream block on the waterfront.

Neeson said the board considered the marina to be an important public facility in one of the fastest-growing areas of Auckland. There was no major public benefit in the plan of sale of the freehold, he said. The community and marina berth holders opposed the sale once it became public knowledge, he said in a notice of motion on December 4.

Buddle Findlay gave a legal opinion to Auckland Council Property in 2015 which said public access to the area was controlled by the West Harbour Act and both the council and buyer would be bound to continue to provide public access.

Panuku said the Unitary Plan allowed for residential development in the marina and Herbert's Hobsonville Marina Ltd "holds ten ground leases in total, eight of which are for 67 years and the remaining two are perpetually renewable. It owns the structures built on top of the land it leases".

 The Westpark or Hobsonville Marina on the upper Waitemata Harbour.
The Westpark or Hobsonville Marina on the upper Waitemata Harbour.

Panuku provided questions and answers about the Westpark/Hobsonville Marina.

Q: Is the marina zoned for residential development?
A: Yes. The Unitary Plan allows for residential development in the marina as part of a marina precinct.
Q: Does the Empowering Act allow for residential development?
A: No. The Waitemata City Council (West Harbour) Empowering Act 1979 excludes residential activity from its definition of marina activities.
Q: Does this mean that no residential activity can be enabled at Westpark/ Hobsonville Marina?
A: No. As the Empowering Act is inconsistent with the council's strategic direction as defined by the Unitary Plan, Panuku has sought legal advice on the use of the Public Works Act to enable housing - housing being a public work. The legal advice has confirmed this option is available to the council.
Q: Is council's legal advice now available to the stakeholders?
A: Yes. To enable open and informed discussion during the engagement process we have included copies of the council's legal opinions (Attachment 2) which provides detail on the options for the council to enable housing using the Public Works Act.
Q: How would development be enabled?
A: Residential development would be enabled by the sale of parts of the freehold of the marina. The rest of the marina would remain in council ownership and public access to the marina would be retained.
Q: Has HML developed a plan for the marina?
A: Yes. HML has produced a draft plan showing a potential development proposal. Please note that this plan has been produced independently by HML and has not been approved by Panuku or Auckland Transport.
Q: Do the local residents and stakeholders have any say?
A: Yes. In June public engagement sessions will be held to give the community an opportunity to tell us their views on the future of the Westpark/ Hobsonville marina. The feedback will inform, and be included in, any recommendation made to the council's Finance and Performance Committee who ultimately decide whether to make available for sale parts of the freehold of the marina.
Q: Can the planning provisions for the marina be challenged through this process?
A: No. The Unitary Plan became operative in part on the 15 November 2016. There is no legal ability to challenge the plan provisions through this engagement process.