new auckland

Govt holds out over America’s Cup bases

Update: After hours of debate, the Council voted 12-3, with 3 abstentions to endorse its favoured Wynyard Basin option for a resource consent application. The government option will continue to be investigated.

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Auckland Council and the Government are still deeply at odds over the waterfront options for America's Cup bases - on the day the Council must select one to put forward for resource consent.

Councillors will be told today the government option is too high a risk because of the presence of hazardous substance businesses nearby, the "prohibitively expensive" cost of moving them on for the period of the Cup, a lack of space for the eight teams likely to be in the event, and that it does not leave a legacy for Auckland. 

Even a law passed by Parliament to make the government option happen "could not address all these matters".

Both the government and the council would be expected to pay towards the waterfront facility to host the 36th America's Cup in Auckland.

At the same council meeting today,  Auckland Mayor Phil Goff will rule out paying for a multi-million dollar event hosting fee for the 2020-21 event which Team NZ requires.

After weeks of negotiations and investigation the parties are split on the best site in which to invest what could be at least $140 million of public money.

The Government will not let go of its preferred and, according to council reports and Team New Zealand, the highly flawed option on the old Tank Farm could be millions of dollars cheaper than the Council and TNZ's Cup village to build, and it would not need new wharf construction that could encroach into the harbour 

The Council voted last month unanimously for a cluster of bases built on Halsey, Hobson, and Wynyard wharves, with a 74-metre extension of the Hobson facility and adding 15-metres to the Halsey wharf into the Waitemata at an initial cost of $128 million. This is known as the Wynyard Basin option.

However, since then, the Government minister overseeing the Cup preparations, David Parker, has been insistent that his alternative option further west on the old Tank Farm area now to be known as Wynyard Point, should still be investigated. 

A report to today's crucial Auckland Council meeting again recommends the Wynyard Basin option and sets up a timeline to seek and receive resource consent for it by the middle of next year.

"It is staff advice that the Wynyard Point option cannot meet all of the location analysis criteria," it says.

Major flaws in the Government-backed site are listed as:

– risk of time delays because of lease negotiations and planning consent for using contaminated land

– risk of higher cost due to the need to stop or move adjoining hazardous substances operators - bases would be sandwiched between two hazardous substance facilities creating an "unacceptable risk profile for the public"

– cannot contribute in the longer term as legacy for future America's Cup events (post 2022) as the land is earmarked for public open space and has been since 2005

– it would require the closing of a road, Brigham Rd, which could happen only with a law change

"Staff consider that these are significant issues to address and represent serious challenges to deliverability."

While Parker was told of the problems on November 30, as of yesterday when the Council staff report was circulated "the Minister has committed to further investigating the Wynyard Point option to ensure he is confident that all options have been exhausted."  It says the Crown "will not reach a final view until further due diligence on this option has been completed."

The other option, Wynyard Basin, which has council and Team New Zealand backing still has "challenges and risks" the report says such as making the new wharf infrastructure compatible with the Wynyard Quarter plans and the tight time to get the facility approved and built.

If approved by mid next year, it could be built over the following year and half to be ready for a America's Cup pre-event in December 2019.

The Council has been told costs go beyond the wharf building of $124 million, including $18 million to relocate existing businesses, and bringing forward $80 million of spending for development of the downtown area.

"The Mayor has indicated that there is no funding available for a hosting agreement and that investment in necessary infrastructure is the extent of the Council's contribution."

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