Residents fighting to stop reserves’ sale

Among the locals opposing the potential sale of public reserves in east Auckland are, from left, Neil Pinkerton, Sue Goldwater, Roger Schneiderman, and John Mooney. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Irate residents are battling to stop the proposed sale of four east Auckland public reserves.

Auckland Council wants to dispose of green spaces it owns at 111R Golfland Drive, 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, and 31 Aspiring Avenue/17R Hilltop Road.

The Howick Local Board voted late last year to retain the reserves, but the council’s finance and performance committee overrode it and voted to put them up for sale.

A lengthy legal process, which involves final signoff by the Government, must be worked through before that can happen.

The move is part of an effort by the council to raise money through its emergency budget, which requires $224 million to be realised from “asset recycling”.

Opposing the sale also are Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Paul Young, and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown and Botany MP Christopher Luxon.

Determined locals are also working to keep the reserves in public hands.

Among them are Golflands residents Neil Pinkerton, Roger Schneiderman, and John Mooney, and Sue Goldwater, who lives in Sunnyhills.

They’re circulating a petition objecting to the proposed sale that’s so far been signed by people from more than 450 local households.

“We’ve been doorknocking,” Mooney says. “A very high percentage of the neighbours agree with us.”

They’re concerned the land could be used for high-density housing and say such a development would not be in keeping with the character of the existing neighbourhoods.

“It’s a public reserve that’s used by our children and for recreation,” Schneiderman says of the park in Golfland Drive.

“To take that away from people would be hugely disappointing. The council has to see that.

“There’s enough traffic congestion here already with the schools [in Golflands] and it will cause people to be late for work.”

Pinkerton says he wonders what the council will do next if it’s able to sell the reserves.

“This is one thing now but how far does it go, and what else are they going to do after that?

“Is it going to continue right through until every green space is gone? Where does it stop?”

Goldwater says selling the reserves will set a precedent around how the council can effectively raise money to cover a budget shortfall.

She says housing intensification is happening “dramatically” across Auckland, including in her community.

“One of the things we talked about in our area is that it’s an Auckland-wide problem.

“We are making a noise about it out east, but it’s going on all over Auckland.

“We need to think about our city, how we want it to go forward, and whether we want green spaces.

“People will say you just don’t want it [housing intensification] in your backyard, but the council needs to think about the city and what are we doing to it. We will pass it on to the next generation.”

A spokesperson for Auckland Council says no date has yet been set to notify the public about the intention to dispose of the four public reserves.

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