Thursday, June 13, 2024

Public parks’ sale subject to legal process

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This reserve at 111R Golfland Drive is among the four local public parks Auckland Council wants to sell. Times photo Farida Master

Members of the public opposed to the sale of four east Auckland public reserves will have the chance to make their voices heard.

Auckland 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” as part of the council’s emergency budget.

A number of 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 others, being public reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, 111R Golfland Drive, and 31 Aspiring Avenue/17R Hilltop Road.

However, the council’s finance and performance committee voted to dispose of 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.

A report prepared for the finance and performance committee describes the four east Auckland reserves as “undeveloped open space” and states engagement with local mana whenua with regard to their sale is underway.

Council acting chief group financial officer Kevin Ramsay says the council is making savings in the way it operates and has taken a “hard look” at what assets are working for residents.

He says councillors and local boards will continue to be consulted and kept informed around this process.

Some decisions are still to be made, but for properties the council has expressed an intention to sell, it will prepare them, look at valuations and timings, and ensure it gets the best return for the people of Auckland, Ramsay says.

“As part of our stewardship of public funds and resources, the properties will not be sold for less than 90 per cent of the valuation, without approval of the finance and performance committee.

“Most of the sites [which are] surplus to council requirements are sold contestably through an open market process, where the property is advertised, usually through an appointed agent, so anyone with an interest in that property is aware it is for sale and has the opportunity to make a bid.”

Ramsay says any interested parties, including neighbours or community groups, can ask to be considered as potential buyers.

“Panuku sells the properties on behalf of Auckland Council and follows all required statutory processes, including where land is held subject to specific legislation.”

The four public green spaces in east Auckland the council wants to sell are subject to the Reserves Act 1977, Ramsay says.

Any disposal of these properties is subject to the reserve revocation process under the act being completed.

“This process includes public notification of the proposal to revoke the reserve status of the land and sell the property.

“If any objections are received, these are forwarded to an independent hearings commissioner and potentially a hearing.”

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.

Final revocation of the reserve status requires Department of Conservation approval and signoff from Conservation Minister Kiri Allan.

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