What's New

Coastal track needs saviour with deep pockets

Flagstaff Team

WANTED: A white knight to charge in and save the day by buying the heritage-listed property where a fence has severed the Takapuna-to-Milford coastal track.
But a fairytale ending to this drawn-out saga seems less likely than ever, with the Black Rock property now for sale by tender.
This follows a unanimous decision by the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board last week that it could not afford to buy the 9 Kitchener Rd property with limited board funds.
Chair Toni van Tonder said the board – delegated by Auckland Council to try to come up with a local solution – had explored all suggestions during a meeting from which the press and public were excluded due to commercially sensitive information being discussed.
Van Tonder told the Observer there was a “wide gap” between a recent valuation obtained by the board and the expectations of beneficiaries, working from a council valuation of $6.81 million.
With insufficient funds of its own and the council having no appetite to deal with the matter, she said the board made the difficult decision to say no to a conditional deal offered by the property owners.
The owners were no longer interested in giving an easement across the property, which had been offered in exchange for a lifting of the property’s heritage listing. They wanted to sell.
Van Tonder said the board was disappointed, as the community would be, especially the 7500 people who signed a Takapuna Residents Association (TRA) petition that last year called on council to safeguard the track.
TRA chair Steven Salt said: “The outcome is disappointing but not surprising considering the constraints the board was placed under in terms of budget. It was a sorry situation that could have been avoided if the council had acted earlier.” The Milford Residents Association (MRA) is equally dismayed. Co-chair Debbie Dunsford told the board ahead of its meeting that, “A solution has to be found. We won’t accept [the track]being closed.”
Dunsford remained hopeful this week that the track might be saved, especially if the property didn’t sell due to its “nonsense” heritage listing.
Precision real estate agent Andrew Dorreen, who is marketing the property, is another who believes ideally a way could be found to meet everyone’s expectations, with council a logical buyer. But he is open to all offers and says the beneficiaries want to move on.
His sales material states: “There is an opportunity for a custodian or perhaps a group of custodians to get together and secure a piece of New Zealand history. There could be a motivation… to restore public access to the North Shore walkway by donating the land back for public use.”
Van Tonder said the board hadn’t “closed the door” on trying to strike an access arrangement with a new buyer. But $3.1m in hand from the sale of the former Takapuna library sale could not go towards that, due to the terms of an original endowment.
Some in the community have suggested a Givealittle campaign to raise money to support a purchase.
Van Tonder said a targeted rate or selling assets to raise money for a purchase were not viable options in this case because of the timeframe and consultations processes needed.
But having staff identify the assets in the board’s area had been a useful exercise, finding that very few of the 383 properties might be suitable for disposal.
– Janetta Mackay, editor

Please consider supporting The Rangitoto Observer by clicking here: