14 Mar 2018

America's Cup village proposal takes another turn

8:02 am on 14 March 2018

The ever-changing process of agreeing on an America's Cup village for Auckland has taken another turn with a new proposal now doing the rounds.

The proposed America's Cup Village around the Wynyard Quarter.

One of the possibilities for the planned America's Cup village in Auckland. Photo: Emirates Team New Zealand

There's no agreement yet between the government, council and Team New Zealand on the new idea, at the same time as the council prepares to advance planning on a layout that may yet be dumped.

None of the three parties is commenting on the proposal, which might use a larger area of Wynyard Point than previously proposed by the government and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

That would be achieved with the removal of a second bulk fuel storage facility, adjacent to one operated by Stolthaven which has agreed in principle to vacate its site for use as team bases.

RNZ News understands the new variation drops the extension of Hobson Wharf, which Team New Zealand had publicly claimed had been promised by Cabinet Minister David Parker for its base.

Mr Parker has not commented on the claim.

However the proposal appears to retain some extension of Halsey Street Wharf, which Mr Parker hopes to minimise.

Today may be a turning point in the process as the Auckland Council closes public submissions on the plan it agreed with the team in December, but which Mr Parker didn't favour.

It raises the question of whether that proposal, involving 75-metre extensions to Hobson and Halsey Street Wharves, will advance to the Environment Court, or be headed-off by an alternative.

As of Tuesday night, 118 submissions had been lodged on that plan, and 28 on a connected plan to relocate fishing, ferry and seaplane facilities to the western side of Wynyard Point.

There have now been four possible plans exchanged between the three parties, and a fifth proposal publicly promoted by a major waterfront landowner Viaduct Harbour Holdings.

That company opposes the extension of Hobson and Halsey Street Wharves, because of the risk that permanent team buildings would obscure harbour views and harm the value of its landholdings.

Phil Goff has previously said one factor that needs to be considered, is to choose a plan that avoids significant planning objections.

The major issue raised by the council's decision not to further extend submissions on the December option, is the impact on the timing of when a cup village could be completed.

The Auckland Council had previously warned that a further delay to that planning process, or starting a new process, risked a domino-effect that could prevent bases being ready for teams arriving a year ahead of the 2020/21 regatta.

RNZ understands that options on that front could include staggered completion dates that might provide some bases earlier than others.

Talks on the village layout are bundled up with negotiations on a Host Agreement, which decides how the costs of staging the event are shared between the team, the government, and possibly the council.