Groups line up at Auckland Council to denounce wharves extensions for America's Cup bases

“The thinking has to be integrated and not taken in isolation," says Viv Beck.

A procession of organisations marched through Auckland’s Town Hall this morning pleading for no further wharf extensions into the Waitemata Harbour port to cater for America’s Cup bases.

Heart of the City and the Waitemata and Devonport-Takapuna local boards all fronted up to the all-of-council governing body meeting to give feedback on the location of the cup bases.

The council’s options – narrowed down to three – include extending Halsey Wharf by 220 metres to accommodate all the bases and create a carnival atmosphere for fans, much as the Viaduct Harbour did during the last America’s Cup. 

This is the option favoured by Team NZ but is the costliest and is opposed by the local boards and retail lobby group Heart of the City.

The least expensive $137 million option is dispersing the bases across three wharves – Hobson, Halsey and Wynyard. There would be a 50-metre extension required for the northern end of Halsey Wharf to accommodate four bases.

After discussions with Mayor Phil Goff and Team New Zealand at the weekend, Economic Development Minister David Parker asked the council to come up with a third option.

Heart of the City’s Viv Beck says whatever the council and government decide on where the bases will go, it needs to be in alignment with the council’s already drawn up Central Wharves plans for the city and Ports of Auckland’s 30-year masterplan.

“The thinking has to be integrated and not taken in isolation. From Heart of the City's view, the economic and environmental concerns need to be fully considered before any decision is made.”

Ms Beck says Heart of the City favours the bases clustered across Hobson, Halsey and Wynyard wharves to create an amphitheatre. “It would be a good base for cup atmosphere and, ideally, there would be no further encroachment into the harbour.”

She says the point Heart of the City is making is on integrated thinking for everybody making the final decision. “We want to see all the issues about the downtown wharves and waterfront aligned and the bases not just built in isolation from all the other known plans.”

Waitemata Local Board deputy chairman Shale Chambers told councillors Aucklanders increasingly don’t “wish for expansion of wharves into the harbour or at least want it minimised.

“There seems to be a hope we will create another Viaduct Harbour for the cup bases but that is not going to happen.

“Any legacy from the new bases location will be less than what was achieved with Viaduct Harbour but we can’t change the plans we already have for the downtown wharves.”

Mr Chambers says the extension of Halsey Wharf is laudable and justified if the council and government were not footing the bill. “It will also just become a superyachts berthing area, so we support the inner-wharf plans for bases over three wharves.”

The council was urged by Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Mike Cohen to “futureproof” any new America’s Cup bases location, so it can be swapped to other purposes and then brought back into a cup base whenever Auckland has the hosting rights.

Councillors will debate the options this afternoon and it expected Mr Goff and chief executive Stephen Town will be given authority to continue negotiations over the final option.

The council wants to lodge a resource consent for the chosen base location in January so building work can start in the middle of next year to have the bases ready in time for summer 2019 when the first syndicates are expected to arrive.

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