Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Is Howick Market in jeopardy?

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The HVA has been locked out of the old Howick Library building by Panuku Development, Auckland Council’s development arm, citing public safety. They have been using this building as storage for around ten years. 

A battle is brewing over the old Howick Library building in Fencible Drive – and it could jeopardise the future of the Howick Market.

The Howick Village Association (HVA) has held keys to the ageing building at 16 Fencible Drive for a decade, according to one HVA member. The building was used for storing equipment used in the community.

Now the HVA has been locked out by Panuku Development, Auckland Council’s development arm, citing public safety.

The current state of the old Howick Library building.

HVA president Ken Scott said Howick businesses are not impressed, particularly as they were given very short notice. “We’re not happy about it,” he said.

“We got notification about a month-and-a-half ago that they wanted us to exit it.

“The issue now is it’s going to be a challenge to find somewhere close to the market (for storage).”

Before the locks were changed at the old library on Monday June 24, awnings and gazebos used to shelter the Howick Market stalls were stored there for the week. The equipment is used for winter protection in the “wind tunnel” they occupy in the village square each Saturday.

“Now we may have to consider closing the market,” said Scott.

The Howick market has operated in some capacity for around 22 years. It was called the Howick Bazaar and, in its present format with gazebos etc, it has run for approx 13.

When the library on Uxbridge Rd opened in 1997 the old library was left vacant and largely unused.

The HVA have been using the ground floor of the building as storage.

The old library has provided a handy and free storage lock-up for the HVA, Christmas Lighting Trust and, to a lesser extent, the Radio Trust. The contents occupied a good proportion of the ground floor.

Scott has also underlined his dissatisfaction with inaction by the Howick Local Board – except for member Jim Donald. “They’ve not done anything on this at all,” he said.

There is frustration too that an idea for development or maintenance of the building has been put to the local board in the past but was rejected. A number of Howick businesses had also expressed a desire to buy the building but that too came to nothing.

Storage – especially for the crucial Howick Market equipment – is the priority, he said. At the moment they’re using storage space at the RSA on Wellington Street although Panuku has come to the party, temporarily at least, with a container in which to store Howick Market equipment. It is positioned near the old library.

“Our next step is to find something close to Howick Village Market.”

Meanwhile Ian Wheeler, director of portfolio management for Panuku told the Times the Fencible Drive building is no longer safe for use by the Howick Village Association or any member of the public.

“Our priority is to ensure people’s safety so we let the HVBA (HVA) know as soon as it was deemed unsafe,” said Wheeler.

“Local markets help make town centres vibrant and enjoyable places and contribute to local economies so we want to do all we can to help the Howick market thrive.

“We have been working closely with the HVBA to provide an alternative temporary storage option to assist them in keeping the Saturday markets functioning.”

The current state of the old Howick Library building.

Panuku has taken on the cost of providing a container for the market equipment in the Fencible carpark for a six-month period.

“To ensure the health and safety of the HVBA, we met them on site last week (week beginning Monday, June 24) under managed access so they could remove items, and we have organised to meet them again this week to remove the remainder.”

As to the old library’s future, and timing, nothing further is forthcoming from Panuku.

“The site may be needed for future transport needs but there are a number of issues to work through with Auckland Transport and other stakeholders before a decision is made,” said Wheeler.

  • If members of the public/landlords do have storage space available close to the Howick Village Market, please contact HVA on manager@howickvillage.co.nz.

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