The fight to stop four east Auckland public reserves from being sold is drawing some heavyweight political support.
Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Botany MP Christopher Luxon say they oppose a move by Auckland Council to dispose of the public green spaces in Botany, Pakuranga, Highland Park, and Clover Park.
The council’s finance and performance committee voted in September to dispose of a swath of council-owned properties across the city.
The move is part of an effort to raise $224 million from “asset recycling” through the council’s emergency budget.
Ten properties in the Howick Local Board area the council no longer requires are among those set to be sold.
The board previously voted to support the sale of six of them, but did not endorse the sale of four public reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, 111R Golfland Drive, and 31 Aspiring Avenue/17R Hilltop Road.
However, the finance and performance committee voted to sell all 10 properties, including the four the board wanted to retain.
Howick’s two ward councillors, Sharon Stewart and Paul Young, voted against their sale.
Brown and Luxon say the reserves should not be sold.
It’s ironic the council has deemed the properties “surplus to requirements”, Brown says.
“We have about 130,000 people living in east Auckland already and the population will be about 160,000 by 2030.
“For people to have places to recreate, places to play with their kids and kick a ball around, I don’t see much green space in the backyards of these new properties [that are being built].
“This [the reserves] is what will become the backyards for those kids.
“Getting rid of them means they don’t have those opportunities, which we need to protect.”
The MPs say they also oppose any attempt to develop intensified housing on the reserves.
“We already have issues with this,” Luxon says.
“We have issues at Cockle Bay around intensification where the enabling infrastructure doesn’t support further development.
“These are well built-up areas where we need the green spaces maintained. Where we have seen intensification we haven’t seen good planning.
“It’s not being well thought through and well planned.
“Development is okay if it’s well planned but just chucking apartments into an area that cannot support it can cause problems.”
Young says the council needs to receive feedback from the public on the issue and, if a reserve does not need to be sold, then it should be retained as green space.
Stewart says members of the local community have an opportunity “to come and say something” if they oppose the reserves being sold. “They have to come and speak out.”
Brown says he and Luxon are working to raise awareness of the issue and they will talk to people who live near the four reserves.
“We’ll encourage people to make submissions in opposition [to their sale].
“We need to send a very clear message to Auckland Council that the community does not see these as surplus to requirements.
“These are important community assets. Our reserves are not for sale.”
The council will publicise its intention to revoke the reserve status of the four parks with information about how anyone who objects to their sale can do so.