Prominent architects, academics, legal figures and resident groups have entered the America's Cup base row in an open letter published in today's Herald.
Distinguished academic Dame Anne Salmond, retired Court of Appeal judge Sir "Ted" Thomas and many of Auckland's top architects are calling on the Government, Auckland Council and Team New Zealand to adopt a land-based solution for the cup bases.
Resident groups from the CBD, Devonport, Herne Bay, Northcote, Parnell and St Marys Bay have also signed the letter.
The letter comes as talks between the main parties drag on with no sign of an agreement in sight. It is nearly four weeks since Economic Development Minister David Parker, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton last met.
The 100 or so individuals plus residents groups and architectural groups to sign the letter are calling for five syndicate bases on Wynyard Point, moving the Team New Zealand Base from a 75m extension on Hobson Wharf to a small extension on Halsey Wharf, and two contingency sites on Beaumont St.
It is very similar to the option put forward by Viaduct Harbour Holdings - a company owned by some of New Zealand's richest businessmen who own 20ha of prime waterfront land around Wynyard Quarter.
No one from Viaduct Harbour Holdings has signed the letter, but company chief executive Angela Bull said it supported the letter and "believed the Wynyard Point proposal will deliver a world class America's Cup event which is cheaper without encroachment into the Waitemata Harbour".
The letter, facilitated by lobby group Stop Stealing Our Harbour, says the "smart solution" ticks all the boxes to create a great America's Cup village in front of North Wharf at Wynyard Basin.
It will be quicker, cheaper, minimises the impact on the harbour by removing the need for wharf extensions, preserves harbour views, is less disruptive to recreational users, will not displace the fishing fleet permanently, accelerates de-industrialisation of the Tank Farm on Wynyard Point and leaves a positive legacy, said the letter.
It also gives Team New Zealand the "prominent position they deserve on Halsey Wharf", which one source said will be like a "red rag to a bull" for the cup holders.
Officials are still considering options for the bases, although it is understood the Viaduct Harbour Holdings option is not being formally considered.
The "hybrid" option, which incorporates elements of the Wynyard Basin option, agreed by the council in December with support from Team New Zealand, with more land-based bases on Wynyard Point, is believed to be the main focus of work.
The hybrid option was agreed between Parker and Goff last month, but upset Team New Zealand, which has put its own plan forward with seven bases on a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf.
Team New Zealand and Goff declined to comment on the letter. Parker is overseas and could not be reached for comment.
A spokesman for Goff said the public submission period is still open and council is continuing to work with the Government and Team New Zealand to explore options to host the America's Cup in Auckland.
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Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater called on the parties to provide greater transparency around the process and council to clearly state which plan will be in the resource consent.
The period for submissions on the Wynyard Basin option has been extended by two weeks until March 14, which could allow the council to amend the existing consent application or add a further consent.