Nelson council keen to maximise marina's potential

1:08 pm on 20 December 2020

Nelson is to revive a plan that incorporates its marina into the city's strategic development.

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The marina precinct is critical to Nelson as a recreational hub, and as an enabler of skilled employment in the marine industry, Mayor Rachel Reese says. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

A report commissioned in 2009 is the basis for the Akersten Precinct, aimed at guiding urban growth, design and housing intensification.

Nelson's port and marina were built on reclaimed land, which juts out into the Nelson Haven on the city's front doorstep.

A summary of the 2009 report noted that Nelson's identity has been forged through its connection to the sea, since initial settlement by Māori and subsequent settlement by the New Zealand Company in the 1840s.

Over the years land just to the north of the city has been reclaimed as the town and the port have grown, with substantial areas of port land created in the 1950s to the 1970s.

Akersten Street was one of the last areas to be reclaimed, which involved re-orienting the mouth of the Maitai River, which flowed through the city.

The land was owned primarily by the council, Port Nelson and Talley's with smaller blocks in private ownership.

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Container storage at the Port of Nelson. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

There were also a number of recreational and sports clubs on the site, but there were limited public amenities and connection to the central city was considered poor.

Development of public spaces and better connections between the city and the marina have occurred since the report was written in 2009.

Marina vital for jobs, recreation - mayor

The marina consisted of almost 600 berths, and had facilities for boat haul-outs for maintenance, a refuelling area, swing moorings, and a public boat ramp.

Nelson's Mayor Rachel Reese said the council recently established a new committee to focus on development, with the marina considered to be strategically important to this.

She said the marina precinct was critical to the city as a recreational hub, and as an enabler of skilled employment in the marine industry.

"If I think about the marine industries in our region they are valuable employers, they provide skilled opportunities for our people."

Reese said the marina was primarily a place for boats in a region that placed a lot of emphasis on boating.

"We know that for some of our (marine) services there just isn't enough capacity at the moment so we want to make sure that land at the marina is used both to support the economic opportunities that exist, but also the recreational opportunities."

Reese said it was an attractive destination that had generated a lot of interest from people keen to develop other activities, such as in hospitality and in apartment development.

"We just really need to see what can fit there, what the priorities are and the time's right to do that."

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Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

The city council announced on Thursday it was taking back management of the marina from maintenance firm Nelmac, which was linked to the long-term strategic plan for the marina.

Reese said marinas were complex to operate and the last few years had seen a fragmented approach to how Nelson's was run.

"We made a decision recently to make sure that all of the marina functions are in one place, inside of council rather than have them contracted out."

Handover of the management would happen gradually over the next few months, to be completed by the middle of 2021.

Council chief executive Pat Dougherty said it presented a strong opportunity for improving the marina, and realising its full potential for the city's tourism and boating industries.

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