An area supposed to support peaceful seaside living is being targeted by industrial development, says one resident, in response to an application to build a heavy vehicle accessway through a park.

Marsden Maritime Holdings plans to build a boat maintenance facility at a site off Marsden Bay Drive near Marsden Cove. In order to make the site workable it wants to build a 15m wide access through a recreation reserve, on to nearby Rauiri Drive. The company estimated it would be used by up to 40 vehicles a day, including a heavy boat transporter.

But Ruakaka resident and environmentalist Margaret Hicks is having none of it and presented her thoughts to Whangarei district councillors, who have to grant the company specific permission for their project under the Reserves Act. Ms Hicks said Marsden Cove was supposed to be "a state of the art living environment, not a gateway to industrial development".

The Act said any activity on such a reserve had to be "compatible" with recreational use. "How on earth could that [accessway] be compatible with recreational use? For a start it would compromise public safety, or the sports you might want to take part in," Ms Hicks told councillors.

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Emma Miller, on behalf of the company, said there was "little evidence" to suggest the reserve was used for recreation. "It would perhaps be more appropriately reclassified as a local purpose reserve for its drainage function," she said.

Furthermore, Ms Miller said the easement was at one end of the 67,000sq ms reserve and would take up 1896sq m.

Ms Hicks said it was a future amenity for an area with a growing population. "My argument is, how do you know it's not going to be used as a recreational reserve in future? Are we all clairvoyant?"

Marsden Holdings initially requested approval to transport loads along the existing roads - Marsden Bay and Rauiri drives - but this was denied on the grounds it would have an adverse affect on traffic flows and the roading network.

Councillors are expected to make a decision on the reserve's fate at this month's meeting.