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Busy Beaches A Hive Of Activity

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Hahei Beach
Hahei Beach

Thames-Coromandel District Council issues record number of licences to concessionaires

The number of commercial operators on Peninsula beaches rose dramatically this summer and has reached its maximum for the communities of Hahei, Opito Bay and Cooks Beach.

Thames-Coromandel District Council issued 27 licences to businesses - known as concessionaires - either operating on or crossing a public reserve in order to do their trade. This compared to 18 in 2008 and nine in 2007.

All commercial operators must apply for a licence to operate on or over a public reserve. These include food caravans, dive schools, kayaking companies, adventure companies, surf schools and hire businesses.

Special rules apply to food and coffee carts, which must not operate within 150m of a business selling a similar product. These traders are different to mobile traders, also known as hawkers, who apply for a different permit and must move on every 30 minutes.

"It's a trend we expected but it's caught us a little bit by surprise that we're now at full capacity for a lot of reserves," says TCDC Bylaw Contract Officer Steve Hart. "I was swamped before Christmas with people wanting to do business on beaches and I had to say no to some, while others got a 12-day permit over the peak period."

He said feedback had so far been positive from commercial operators and the public. "They're saying that reserves are becoming vibrant places and there's a benefit to the public from the extra services like food, good coffee and activities."

Concessionaires apply for a "one location" licence which generally lasts for three years, although there are currently a few operators who have annual licences. For an extra fee they can operate at multiple sites all year. They are issued a certificate to show to Council officers who monitor commercial activities. Licences cost between $350 and $750.

Steve Hart said the Council anticipated an increase in the number of commercial operators on Peninsula beaches and - like Councils around the country - developed the system to ensure a measure of control over the amount of commercial activity taking place. Communities were asked for feedback on the number of concessionaires when Reserve Management Plans were developed for their area but the decision ultimately lay with the Council.

"There's an impact with commercial activity. Not everyone wants beaches to be busy places. And this system is beneficial for operators too. It's self-monitoring; operators will report others who haven't gone through the system to become licensed with Council."

Commercial users of public boat ramps are also being brought into the scheme and boat hire companies are among those already operating as concessionaires.

Whilst Hahei, Opito Bay and Cooks Beach have reached capacity, parts of Kuaotunu and Buffalo Beach excluding Brophy's Beach are close to capacity and operators are seeking more remote areas to do business. "We're gradually seeing more operators wanting to use northern Coromandel."

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