Empire Capital's controversial $70 million plans to develop a three-storey residential community at a south-eastern Auckland marina have been approved.

L175, a scheme for 28 apartments and commercial premises including restaurants and shops at Pine Harbour near Beachlands, won consent from independent hearing commissioners appointed by Auckland Council in a decision delivered last Thursday.

In all, 40 submissions opposed the plans, five were in support and three neutral. Despite strong objections from marina berth-holders and locals, consent was granted for the non-complying activity, partly because the commissioners said it supports the facility's operation as a passenger transport node.

Opponents who gave evidence included Richard Steel, a berth holder and chairman of the Pine Harbour Berth Holders' Association whose concerns focused on inundation from flooding, sea level rise, a lack of park-and-ride provisions for the ferry and stormwater drainage.

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The association's opposition was supported by Euan Little of the Westhaven Marina Users' Association, Neil Blackbourne of the Hobsonville Berth Holders' Association, Paul Glass of the Bayswater Berth Holders' Association and Robert Allsopp-Smith of the Gulf Harbour Berth Holders' Association, the decision said.

"Concerns expressed related generally to reverse sensitivity issues and reduction in the amenity and accessibility of marina berths due to development that is not directly related to recreational boating, including residential development," the decision said.

Empire Capital plans to build on the land next to the Pine Harbour Marina. Photo/Natalie Slade
Empire Capital plans to build on the land next to the Pine Harbour Marina. Photo/Natalie Slade

Elizabeth Scarborough, a local resident and a berth holder, raised concerns about parking design, allocation and lack of availability at the marina. Insufficient disabled parking spaces were provided, she told the commissioners.

Louise Pether, another berth holder, raised concerns about convenient access to marina berths. Leonard Sneddon, another berth holder, said the scheme "will erode privileges that berth holders obtained when purchasing leases. His concerns related to disrupted access and removal of convenient parking. [He] considered that convenient access to berths was an essential element of the benefit of mooring in a marina, particularly due to the need to maintain and provision vessels."

Leigh Jackson, a local and berth holder as well as ferry commuter, said the scheme would allow residential development in a new location "when there is already ample provision for residential activities in the Pine Harbour Precinct, it would reduce amenity for berth holders, compromise access for emergency services and undermine the core recreational boating function of the marina."

The commissioners, however, decided flooding and coastal hazard effects could be minimised through a flood wall and the scale and type of development proposed was consistent with others parts of the site. They also argued the development would make efficient use of the land.

The four buildings comprising the development are set to be three storeys high, directly fronting the southern edge of the 190 Jack Lachlan Drive, Beachlands.

Each building would have a height of approximately 9m above ground level (which increases up to 11m for mechanical plants and lift shafts) and a depth of approximately 13m.

The four buildings would be separated from one other by approximately 6m, to provide for access, landscaped areas and view shafts between the marina and the private road.