Thursday, April 18, 2024

Commissioners hear opposition to reserves’ sale

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Auckland Council wants to sell three east Auckland public reserves, including this one in Fortyfoot Lane, Pakuranga. Times photo Wayne Martin

Dozens of people who oppose revoking the reserve status of three east Auckland public parks so they can be sold have finally had the chance to make their views heard face-to-face, but through a computer screen.

Auckland Council voted in late 2020 to dispose of 83 properties it owns to raise money from “asset recycling”.

Among the sites are public reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 111R Golfland Drive, Botany; 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Pakuranga; 72R Karaka Road, Beachlands; and part of a site of a gas station at 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga.

Council agency Eke Panuku Development Auckland is managing the properties’ sale.

A statutory process must be followed before sites classified as reserves under the Reserves Act 1977 can be sold.

The council publicly notified and sought submissions on its intent to revoke the reserve status of 20 properties across Auckland in February last year.

Independent commissioners appointed to consider public submissions will make recommendations to a council committee which will decide whether to forward requests for reserve revocation to the Minister of Conservation for final approval.

Submitters had the chance to share their view with the commissioners online or via landlines or mobile phone on February 17-18.

There’s no legislative requirement for hearings to be held, but the council says it wants to hear from the submitters.

Among those who spoke is Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association chairman Laurie Slee, who said the reserves’ sale will deprive locals of benefits the parks offer.

“Remaining reserves are likely to become more crowded, reducing the space for individual people, and in a number of incidences getting access to reserves is going to get more difficult,” Slee told the commissioners.

“We think the proposed sale of reserves runs counter to council policy and should be overturned.”

Howick Local Board member David Collings presented the board’s submission to the commissioners.

He said the board does not support the reserve revocation of any of the three public parks or their sale.

Collings said: “Children should be able to run, play and enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment that a family can walk to.

“Whether these reserves are with or without play space, or even bench seats, they are a gathering place for parents with toddlers for socialisation and play.”

Collings said local parks are also important for people’s physical health and are gathering places to socialise, play sport and host children’s birthday parties.

“We’ve seen this much more during the period of Covid.”

And trees planted in the reserves provide shade and shelter, habitat and food for birds, “as well as contributing to the absorption of carbon dioxide from our ever more polluted urban environments”, he said.

An Eke Panuku spokesperson says the commissioners are completing site visits to the five local properties.

They’ll take into account the submissions they heard and then complete reports to be presented to an upcoming council meeting.

It’s not possible to know how long that process will take to complete given the volume of submissions, the spokesperson says.

The council committee the report will go to next meets in April and every two months after that.

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