Protest over wa­ter­front ex­ten­sion

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By MARIA SLADE AND LAURA WAL­TERS

Out­raged her­itage and ur­ban de­sign groups pick­eted Auck­land’s wa­ter­front on Wed­nes­day to protest a wharf ex­ten­sion they say will de­stroy the city’s har­bour views.

Ports of Auck­land is due to begin work in April on two 98-me­tre ex­ten­sions on ei­ther side of the Bledis­loe con­tainer wharf, which will al­low big­ger ships to dock.

The port says the piled struc­tures will have no im­pact on the har­bour or its users.

But groups in­clud­ing Civic Trust Auck­land, Ur­ban De­sign Fo­rum, the NZ In­sti­tute of Ar­chi­tects Auck­land branch and Devon­port Her­itage say the ex­ten­sions will block the view of the har­bour en­trance from the end of Queen’s Wharf.

The protest was or­gan­ised ahead of yes­ter­day’s Auck­land Coun­cil meet­ing to dis­cuss recla­ma­tion work planned for be­tween the new wharves af­ter their con­struc­tion.

At the mo­ment, the recla­ma­tion work is ‘‘non­com­ply­ing’’, mean­ing it will be dif­fi­cult for Ports of Auck­land to get con­sent. Ear­lier this month the coun­cil agreed to look at eas­ing the re­stric­tion and make recla­ma­tion a ‘‘dis­cre­tionary’’ ac­tiv­ity.

While the Bledis­loe ex­ten­sions are not recla­ma­tions, the port says it will also need to re­claim 3 hectares from the har­bour in the near fu­ture.

A group of city coun­cil­lors op­posed to fur­ther recla­ma­tion forced an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of the coun­cil’s Devel­op­ment Com­mit­tee to­mor­row, say­ing they were given in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion on Ports of Auck­land’s plans.

The port has con­sent for the Bledis­loe ex­ten­sions, which are al­lowed un­der the re­gion’s Coastal Pol­icy State­ment. The con­sent did not need to be pub­licly no­ti­fied, coun­cil of­fi­cials say.

Sec­re­tary of her­itage group Civic Trust Auck­land, Au­drey van Ryn, says Queen’s Wharf is a public gath­er­ing place and the view­shaft out to the har­bour en­trance needs to be pre­served.

She likens Wed­nes­day’s protest to the re­cent suc­cess­ful protest against the pro­posed felling of six old po­hutukawa trees next to the north­west­ern mo­tor­way which were threat­ened by a road­ing devel­op­ment.

‘‘Peo­ple don’t want to lose some­thing that’s pre­cious to Auck­land,’’ she says.

Coun­cil­lor Chris Darby says the public has ex­pressed a real con­cern about the gov­er­nance of the ports and of the Auck­land re­gion.

‘‘I’m aligned with those con­cerns.’’

Lo­cal ward coun­cil­lors were de­nied their re­quest to speak at yes­ter­day’s meet­ing. The public were also ex­cluded, which is con­cern­ing, Darby says.

Ports of Auck­land spokesman Matt Ball says Ports of Auck­land does not have to con­sult the public on the ex­ten­sion, but will have to be­fore a recla­ma­tion.

Ports of Auck­land has fol­lowed due process in terms of the ex­ten­sion, he says.

Devon­port-Taka­puna Lo­cal Board chair­man Mike Co­hen and Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board chair­man Shale Cham­bers were both de­nied their re­quests to speak at yes­ter­day’s coun­cil meet­ing on the recla­ma­tion pol­icy.

Co­hen and Cham­bers were there on Wed­nes­day to sup­port the group of more than 50 pro­test­ers.

Protest or­gan­iser Julie Stout from Ur­ban Auck­land says the ports need to learn to be ‘‘good neigh­bours’’ by talk­ing to the lo­cal com­mu­nity and fit­ting in with what the public wants.

Trans­port Blog edi­tor and Ur­ban Auck­land mem­ber Pa­trick Reynolds says Wed­nes­day’s protest was not about num­bers.

Reynolds says he hopes the demon­stra­tion will make the coun­cil lis­ten to what the public wants.

He is also call­ing for the Gov­ern­ment to de­velop a na­tional ports strat­egy.

‘‘They have a strat­egy of hav­ing no strat­egy.’’

Photo: LAURA WAL­TERS

Con­cerned:

Au­drey van Ryn, left, and Glo­ria Jenk­ins from Civic Trust Auck­land join pro­test­ers at Queens Wharf on Wed­nes­day.

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