Auckland Council wants Wynyard Basin for America's Cup bases but government doesn't

Auckland Council and government still to finalise bases location.

Auckland Council has opted for a cluster America’s Cup village to be developed at Wynyard Basin, despite the government further exploring putting the bases at Wynyard Point.

Councillors voted today by 12 to 3 with three abstentions that a single resource consent should be lodged in January for eight bases at Wynyard Basin, which is Team New Zealand’s preference.

The village will cost $124 million, plus another $18 million for the relocation of several businesses.

Economic Development and America's Cup Minister David Parker, who is in Argentina on a trade mission, contacted councillor Mike Lee during this morning’s governing body meeting imploring him to urge councillors to include both options in the resource consent application but councillors decided otherwise.  

After several visits to both sites, Mr Parker has had the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry (MBIE) doing further feasibility work on the Wynyard Point option but time is fast running out to get the bases built in time for the first teams to arrive in the summer of 2019.

Mr Parker believes the Wynyard Point option will leave a better legacy for Aucklanders, even though there are no firm indications of cost and there are time risks surrounding negotiations over ending leases for the ASB Bank car park and the companies that have operations at the tank farm.

Team New Zealand has ruled out the area because of wind and tide hazards as the yachts have a low tolerance for movement.

Mayor Phil Goff says the two options will still be up for discussion when he meets Mr Parker next week but there are practical time limitations. “I will be obliged to tell the government about the practical difficulties there will be if Wynyard Point is adopted.”

Mr Goff says while his first preference initially was for Wynyard Point and he thought something exciting could be done there, it didn’t work when ministry and council staff reported back that the council would struggle to get a resource consent application through in time.

The risks of using Wynyard Point also included the cost and time of constructing a seawall, having the bases and public near hazardous areas, a road closure, limitations on the public visiting the area, lack of a village atmosphere and the lack of berths for superyachts. About 160 superyachts are expected to visit Auckland throughout the event and many will have maintenance work done either in the water or on land.

The Wynyard Cup village will include a 77-metre extension to Halsey Wharf and 70-metre extension to Hobson Wharf and these are expected to be vigorously opposed by groups who don’t want any further encroachment into the harbour.

The council is using a single hearing process for the resource consent. It means direct referral to the Environment Court that involves public notification and the ability for any concerned members of the public and groups who make submissions on the application to participate.

The money for the bases will be included in the council's long-term plan on the basis a funding package will need to be negotiated, sharing the costs between the council, the government and private sector investors. There is no indication when the government will decide on its contribution.

A study by Market Economics for MBIE shows hosting the cup event will add $555-977 million to the New Zealand economy and this doesn’t take into account the benefits of new infrastructure and the ongoing boost for the marine industry.

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