Auckland lawyer plans to build a boatshed on Herne Bay beach, saying the land belongs to him

An Auckland property lawyer wants to build a boatshed at Herne Bay beach on the basis it is on his own private property.

Jeff Morrison has lodged a resource consent application with Auckland Council to build a new boatshed at his property in Argyle St, which has riparian rights and access to Herne Bay beach.

The plan has alarmed the Herne Bay Residents Association, which believes if Morrison gets his way it will set a precedent for privatisation of public beaches along an inner-city coastline dotted with historic boatsheds.

Morrison’s move follows public opposition to plans by richlister Rod Duke to build a James Bond-style helipad with a roof that folds back on a refurbished boat shed at nearby Sentinel beach in Herne Bay.

In his application, submitted to the council by the planning firm Tattico, Morrison is seeking to replace an existing small upright storage shed at the bottom of the steps to the beach from his property with a 33sq m triangular-shaped shed further forward on sand to store kayaks, paddleboards and surfboards.

The shed will be nestled between and largely obscured by substantial Pohutukawa trees and inside the boundary of the property, says the application.

“The view of the structure from the beach will not be dominant. In fact, the shed will completely disappear into the bank/cliff behind and it will be painted to blend in.”

A boatshed is permitted under the single housing zone for the Argyle St property, but because it is also within a Significant Ecological Area and Coastal Inundation Area, resource consent is required.

In a report to Auckland Council, Tattico planner Mark Vinall said the proposed boatshed “will have no more than minor effects on the natural character and amenity of the area” and said the application can be considered without the public having a say.

The Herald sought comment from Morrison through Vinall, who said: “My client doesn’t think it is appropriate to comment other than to note the application is simply for a storage shed for kayaks/paddleboards on private property.”

Herne Bay Residents Association co-chair Don Mathieson said the application claims the boundary has changed following the resanding of Herne Bay beach in the 1990s.

“They now claim the hide-tide mark has moved further out to sea, increasing their ownership of the beach area and enabling them to build a boat shed,” he said.

Mathieson said the association questions the legal validity of changing the boundary due to man-made changes to the beach topography.

The case could set a precedent and allow other property owners to extend their boatsheds two-to-three metres out to the dry part of beaches where people sunbathe, he said.

A better and easier solution, he said, would be to extend the existing boatshed on the original boundary, which does not require resource consent.

Mathieson said the council should clarify the law on the boundary and deny the application. A council spokeswoman said the application is being checked for completeness and no decision has been made on whether it will be publicly notified.

The Herne Bay Residents Association has also opposed Duke’s plans to fly helicopters to and from his new multimillion-dollar home, with Mathieson saying a High Court decision had set a high threshold to get over to reapply for a helipad.

“He has to reinstate the boatshed much to the original outline and modify the roof in such a way it can’t be slid backwards and forwards. Basically now, it is a boatshed,” he said.

Duke said the boatshed had just been completed, the roof as it stands now is fixed, and expects to receive code of compliance shortly.

Asked if he still planned to pursue a helipad on the boatshed, Duke said: “I have yet to make that decision.”

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