An $11 million, three-pier marina with 115 berths may be a step closer to being built near Whangarei's Te Matau a Pohe bridge.
If the proposed Okara Marina gets the go ahead, it will increase the available marina berths in Whangarei Harbour by 40 per cent, generate $9.5m a year and create 94 jobs.
Resource consent applications, plans and other documents for the marina were lodged with Northland Regional and Whangarei District Councils this week.
The Whangarei Harbour Marina Management Trust turns many boats away every year because of a lack of berths and has an over-subscribed waiting list, manager Brain Caulton said.
The trust already manages the 181-berth marina at the Town Basin and the 109 berths at Kissing Pt.
The $10m to $11m proposed marina, just up-harbour from Limeburner's Creek and accessed off Port Rd, would meet the growing demand for berths for large yachts up to 40m. Of the berths, 20 per cent will be for multihulls.
The project is included in the district council 20/20 momentum plan and the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan due to its significant economic development benefits, marina trustee and working party leader Brian McLachlan said.
''Independent studies have predicted, once the berths are fully occupied, an ongoing economic impact of $9.5m a year and the indirect generation of 94 new jobs.
''With the coming Hundertwasser Centre and the 2021 America's Cup increasing the numbers of visitors to the area, the timing of the new marina is optimal.''
Planning has taken two years so far, with the projected costs increasing at least $2m in that time, up from $8.1m.
Work to date has included market research, designs, archaeology, ecology, hydrology and financial assessments.
Mr McLachlan said the consent process could be in the pipeline for six months and the building project would take two years once it got the green light and funds.
''Risk management'' included the options of building the three floating piers at once, or just one with the other two in stages.
Mr Caulton said the site is ideal because it is close the marine industries in the Port Rd area and would connect pedestrians to the Town Basin via a boardwalk and path joining the Loop Walk.
The applications cover a raft of consents, including land reclamation, dredging and mangrove removal. One is for a building footprint but there are no designs yet for the office, TV room, toilet, shower and laundry block and other customer facilities.
The project has been trimmed back to core business — berths, customer facilities and parking for 60 vehicles.
Earlier designs toyed with cafes, bars, shop spaces and other ''attractions''. While also being outside the trust's core business, those extra buildings required more land where none is available between the bridge and Port Rd.
''We want it to be plain sailing on the application side. We've been careful to keep the plan simple,'' Mr Caulton said.
As the smaller plan stands, the reclaimed area would be half a hectare.
Mr McLachlan said it was important to keep the reclamation pocket to a minimum size for cultural, ecological and practical reasons, but as the area has already been significantly modified, the environmental impact would be low.
Te Parawhau and other harbour hapu have worked alongside the trust on the plan and are generally supportive, he said.
Wider public consultation will now take place, and the trust continues to dig deep into funding possibilities.
The project already has about $20,000 help from Northland Inc for a scoping study, can contribute some funds of its own, and hopes other sources might include the Government's new $1 billion regional development fund.