Bayswater Marina.

Herbert freeholds Bayswater reclamation, says development becomes more viable

Bayswater Marina owner Simon Herbert has bought the freehold of the North Shore marina’s 3.4ha of reclaimed land from the Crown and will take development proposals to a first consultation meeting with locals next Wednesday.

His company has paid $3.725 million to freehold the land it has occupied on a 105-year lease.

Mr Herbert said the ability to sell freehold homes & apartments was the game-changer, thanks in part to changes introduced in the Auckland Council unitary plan, which mentioned ferry terminals among nodes where intensification should be concentrated. Under the 2009 plan change, development would have been maximised at 3500m², making its viability questionable.

Previous owner Martin Jones died in 2001 while fighting to get both freeholding & approval for a large development of 200 apartments & 7000m² of restaurants, retail space & a ferry terminal.  Mr Herbert had a design competition in 2006 which produced designs for between 250-500 apartments, but lost out in the Environment Court in 2009.

Since then he has been working on more modest designs and hopes to be able to build up to 100 terrace homes & 20-30 apartments, with cafes at each end of the development and some other retail space. Auckland Transport has consent enabling the ferry terminal to be moved to the part of the area which remains in public hands, but does not have immediate plans for the shift.

“There is an opportunity to provide some relatively affordable housing with the limited apartments that will form part of the redevelopment. We hope to see these waterfront homes starting at an incredible $500,000 for a one-bedroom apartment with great views. The larger apartments & spacious 3-4-bedroom terraced houses will be more expensive, reflecting the higher prices of neighbouring North Shore suburbs.”

Mr Herbert said this week he would like to get approval for the residential component to be a special housing area under the housing accord between the Government & Auckland Council, which would mean earlier development. Otherwise, he said, he would have to wait for the unitary plan to be made operative before applying for consent, which could take another 3-5 years.

“The move will allow the marina company to rejuvenate the stunning harbourside location, by turning car parks & concrete into a new community of cafes & apartments. The revamped site will be something all Aucklanders can access & enjoy. Vast open spaces will remain untouched and public access will be improved, not hindered.

“The new Bayswater marine village buildings will occupy less than 20% of the entire site (building cover of about 5000m²). Auckland Council guidelines will ensure that more than 80% of the land remains open space, as it is now. We think that’s a great balance. The 12m maximum building height is fine because we only wanted to build 3 levels.

“The stylish new housing & leisure amenities will focus on family & community. We’ve engaged Construkt Architects and are developing up the public spaces and doing a framework plan. Our plan is to build 2 cafes, a new neighbourhood of around 125 homes and a variety of children’s playgrounds & recreational facilities. There will be parks, beaches & steps to the water’s edge.

“Board sailors, kite surfers, paddle boarders & kayakers will have direct access to the waves. Walkers, runners & cyclists will be able to use a 15m-wide esplanade for a closeup water’s edge experience.”

Bayswater Marina will hold an information evening on Wednesday 12 February at 7.30pm at the Bruce Mason Centre.

Mr Herbert has been working on the freeholding for 5 years, and through 2 law changes affecting it. Section 355 of the Resource Management Act and the Foreshore & Seabed Act had provisions which allowed freehold vesting in certain circumstances, but repealed by the Marine & Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.

“That has some very objective tests the minister has to apply relating to a few parcels of reclaimed land, of which this is one. We made our application, have been dealing with LINZ (Land Information NZ) for 3 years and finally settled it on 12 December.

“It does a couple of things for us – it makes any development a lot more economically viable, and there’s significant resistance to leasehold in the market. And one of the arguments from the people who would rather not see a development here was that, because the freehold was held by the Crown, it somehow had full public access and it shouldn’t have buildings on it.

“We know legally that’s not right, but we think now it’s freeholded it’s difficult for them to mount that argument.”

Each camp has a FaceBook page – Bayswater Marina Ltd set up its Bayswater Marina Village page 10 days ago and Save Bayswater Marina, led by former Alliance MP & current Kaipatiki Local Board member Grant Gillon, has had a page since last year.

Aside from the local issues, Mr Herbert said the 415-berth Bayswater marina was demonstrating synergies with the Westpark marina (now named the Hobsonville marina) at the top of the harbour, which he bought from Paul Webb & Andrew Tauber for $18.5 million (including associated businesses) last year.

Westpark has 592 berths, travel haulage facilities & a maintenance hardstand for 55 boats, a retail village & high-stud industrial buildings on a 4.5ha site, plus a downtown ferry link. “The great thing is it has the haulout yard & full marine services, and it’s only 11km up the harbour. Instead of having to replicate it, we’ve been able to offer a discount to Bayswater users.”

Hobsonville Marina is also leasehold, the freehold owned by Auckland Council and managed by Auckland Council Properties Ltd: “We’re trying to freehold it – we’ve had discussions with ACPL – but these things take time, so I don’t think that will happen any time soon, if at all.”

Earlier story:
11 March 2009: Court rejects intensive residential development for Bayswater marina land

Attribution: Company release, interview.

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