26 Jan 2012

Port expansion 'threat to waterfront development'

12:05 pm on 26 January 2012

Auckland Council is being urged to act quickly to halt plans by its port company to begin extending its container terminal further into the harbour.

The city's downtown promotion agency, Heart of the City, says harbour views would be obscured, but the council-owned port company says any expansion could be challenged.

The council next week begins finalising plans to revamp public space on its waterfront.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney says the process should be widened to include the proposed expansion of adjacent wharves.

Mr Swney says while expansion may be years away, the council needs to think ahead.

Ports of Auckland general manager for infrastructure Ben Chrystall told Nine to Noon that extending Bledisloe Wharf would still be subject to a resource consent.

"When we come to do that, it will require several million dollars worth of work, studying all these impacts, and until that work is done, proper decisions can't really be made.

"So we're comfortable leaving that to the consenting process."

A planner and former regional councillor, Joel Cayford, says the council owns the port company, and must act now to get the right balance of uses on the waterfront.

"Some of it is needed for port activities, some of it is needed for cruise ship activities, but a greater proportion than has been in the past needs to be set aside for public use."

Mr Cayford says if the public is drawn to the waterfront area and spends money there, it is good for the city's economy,

Auckland mayor Len Brown says finalising the public redevelopment plan is the priority, and the port's future will be dealt with in the medium to long term.

"I don't see any real benefit at this time in any pre-emptive discussion relating to either the ownership or the extent of port activity," he says.

Listen to full interviews and view images on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme.