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A Working Waterfront Equals A Successful Auckland

18 March 2005

Media Release

A Working Waterfront Equals A Successful Auckland

“Ring-fencing and strengthening the commercial viability of Auckland’s CBD waterfront is critical if Auckland City and the Regional Council are to create a thriving, vibrant world class “people-focused” development on the harbour’s edge,” Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce said today.

He was releasing the Auckland Chamber of Commerce submission on the Council’s draft proposals to enhance public access and enjoyment of the waterfront.

Key messages in the Chamber’s submission are that development of the waterfront needs to help improve the area’s vital regional (and national) commercial activities, including recognition of:

- A third of Auckland’s economy including jobs depends on the Ports of Auckland - “The port won’t be moving, and any improvements to the waterfront should therefore embrace and help improve its commercial operation.”

- Auckland’s flourishing cruise ship and tourism activities;

- Identifying and future-proofing the requirements of the fishing fleet and sea food processing plants in the precinct;

- The marine industry and visiting superyacht need for access to deep water, berthage and servicing facilities;

- Ensuring transport access improvements along the waterfront provide ferry services with enough berthage and servicing space to meet future demand;

“The suggestion that Auckland City Council spend $400 million to purchase some of Ports of Auckland wharves - Wynyard Pt, Halsey St extension, Hobson, Princess and Queen’s and the water space between them - is a non-starter,” said Mr Barnett.

The Ports area is already 80% owned by the region through the ARC subsidiary, Auckland Regional Holdings Ltd. “It would be stupid for Auckland

City to seek public ownership of an asset already publicly owned,” said Mr Barnett.

As well:

- The Port is a commercial operation and the primary purpose of the wharves is to handle visiting ships and cargo.

- Council’s core role is not about property ownership for the sake of monetary return or profit, but about facilitation of development to achieve good community outcomes.

“Selling Port-owned land should not be allowed to distract from the shared worthy goal of the two Councils and the Port to improve public access and amenities in the precinct,” said Mr Barnett.

In respect of Westhaven, the submission advocates setting up an independent “Boaties Trust” outside of Council in which berth holders take appropriate ownership and responsibility for the marina’s management and future development (at no cost to other ratepayers).

The Chamber submission overall argues that a “mixed use” development improving the commercial viability of the waterfront is complementary with -not contradictory to - improving its amenity value and making it a more attractive place for residents and others to visit and enjoy.

At the heart of the attractiveness of the waterfront is its commercial flavour and energy. Auckland has grown and developed as a “port city,” and a commercially successful waterfront is an asset that the Chamber passionately believes most Aucklanders are immensely proud of.

ENDS


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