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Call to save public recreation land

Call to save public recreation land

The North Shore City Council is concerned that its community may lose coastal land available for public access, enjoyment and use along the foreshore under new government legislation.

The council is uneasy about certain aspects of the government's proposed Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

Loss of marginal strips, which is land around the coastal edge that remains in Crown ownership for use by the public, is the main issue for the council. North Shore City has long been campaigning to retain a marginal strip on reclaimed land at Bayswater Marina in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour.

North Shore City's strategy and finance committee chairperson, Tony Holman, says this part of the new legislation goes against the nature of the Bill.

"It's about providing public access along the foreshore and seabed but removing the provision for marginal strips contradicts this," he says.

"People should be able to easily get to and walk along the coastline."

The council has lodged a submission addressing its concerns on the Foreshore and Seabed Bill.

The submission recognises the need to make exceptions when public safety is at stake. This includes land reclaimed from the sea for industrial purposes such as ports and airports.

Other matters covered in the council's submission include:

* seeking clarification on changes that the Bill will make to the Resource Management Act;

* looking at opportunities for the council to be involved in the process for recognising Maori customary and ancestral connections; and

* clarifying the separate roles of regional and local councils under the legislation.

Councillor Holman says the council is a strong advocate of making more land available for public use, especially along the coast.

"We need to ensure that such a significant asset is available for current and future generations to enjoy."

North Shore City Council is waiting for a decision from the Court of Appeal on the marginal strip at Bayswater Marina.

In 2002, the Department of Conservation (DOC) released its decision to reduce the marginal strip to nine metres. Bayswater Marina Limited (BML), the company DOC agreed to lease the marina land to, had asked for the strip to be significantly reduced to between 3.6 and 9.7 metres. The council had requested that the Crown retain at least 15 metres for public use. The council successfully challenged the process followed by DOC in making its decision through a judicial review. This was then challenged by BML and is currently being considered by the Court of Appeal.

Tony Holman says if the proposed Foreshore and Seabed Bill were passed, marginal strips around reclaimed land could become a thing of the past. Our council strongly hopes that this will not be the case," he says.

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