Kings Arms has no plans to abdicate

The Datsuns live at the Kings Arms, 2016 (Flickr/Sara, used under Creative Commons licence))
The Datsuns live at the Kings Arms, 2016 (Flickr/Sara, used under Creative Commons licence))

Plans to build a block of apartments on the site of the Kings Arms Tavern in Auckland are "mad as hops", according to the bar's owner -- at least for now.

Last week Auckland Council revealed a new set of special housing areas in the city. One of them -- the 'Newton Cluster' -- includes 59 France St South, where the Kings Arms has sat for more than a century.

The prospect of losing one of the city's few mid-sized music venues sent musicians and fans into a tailspin, with more than 5000 signing a petition calling on the council to leave it alone.

Owner Maureen Gordon says the support has been "very flattering", but it's all very much ado about nothing.

"You never say never, because some things could change direction and you're put in that position," she told Newshub. "But we're not willingly going out there and trying to sell the Kings Arms -- at all."

In fact she's currently overseeing upgrades to the Kings Arms' sports bar, which wouldn't happen if there were plans to knock the whole thing down.

So how did the site end up being accepted as a special housing area?

Ms Gordon says she recently became aware the deadline for registering addresses was approaching, and wanted to future-proof the location in the event the Kings Arms does shut its doors one day.

"There's always agents knocking on the door, they're always scouting around. The cranes are getting closer all the time. They made me aware of the fact that the council were changing things and I should get my application in."

Special housing areas are for "fast-track development of affordable housing", according to Auckland Council.

Newshub hasn't been able reach developers Urban Collective for comment, but director of development Kelly McEwan told Auckland blogger Russell Brown "there's nothing to worry about" if Ms Gordon doesn't want to sell.

"People in our industry apply for consents and do things all the time," he told Mr Brown. "It's just a zoning thing."

The special housing areas announced last week are believed to be the final group under the existing legislation.

The confusion has come from Urban Collective's stated plans to build an apartment block on the site, as detailed on the Auckland Council website.

"The development at 59 France Street South is for approximately 60 new apartments over three years. The affordable homes within the development will be priced at between $450,000 and $675,000," it reads. "The apartment development will also provide a mix of housing types, matched to current shortages, including smaller one-bedroom units and larger two-bedroom units."

Mr McEwan wouldn't say whether he had spoken to Ms Gordon about a potential sale of the property. Ms Gordon on the other hand says there have been no discussions at all about the future of the site, and Urban Collective has "jumped the gun".

"At the moment, we're still doing what we always do with our bands, and all sorts of other exciting things with our sports bar. It's just unfortunate that over the week it hit the news."

And as long as the Kings Arms remains a viable business, Ms Gordon has no plans to shut its doors.

"The situation has changed a lot and the local scene's not quite as buoyant as it was -- you go through these patches -- but we still do our thing all the time."