The Howick Local Board is celebrating a victory in its long-time fight against the sale of 34 Moore Street.
The decision has been made by the Finance and Performance Committee of Auckland Council to retain the land and property in a 15 – 3 majority vote.
On Tuesday night the local board put forward a proposal to retain the land and utilise the building that was once the old Howick Borough Council Chambers.
Board Members Jim Donald, Mike Turinsky, Adele White, John Spiller and Peter Young joined local board chair David Collings in presenting to the committee.
Panuku, the property and development arm of Auckland Council, had recommended that the property be disposed of as part of development the Howick Town Centre.
However,after a strong case from board members, the committee has given the Howick Local Board a year to come up with a plan to upgrade and make use of the building.
The board would be expected to provide funding for various aspects of the proposal such as the building upgrade.
Collings says the building, which has sat unused for more than a decade, is a valuable asset and needs to be safeguarded for future community use.
Adele White, the boards lead on Planning, says with the Howick Village Plan being a 30 year document, future growth may indicate a critical use for this land considering its proximity to the town centre.
There is a long list of community groups desperate for premises for which 34 Moore Street would be the perfect fit, they say.
The local board, who has been leasing small office space in the Pakuranga Plaza, and are also hoping to use the Moore Street property as a central, larger, and more suitable local board Office premises.
The board also argued upgrades on the building to make it fit for purpose are far less than what Auckland Council has previously stated.
They expressed frustration that this was still being used as an obstacle to utilise the premises.
“When we housed Uxbridge Arts Centre in this site while their new building was being built, we were told that [34 Moore Street] was going to require over $100k of work. But when we challenged this we got away with only $20k of work being required,” Collings says.
“The Governing Body of Auckland Council has given us a stay of execution on this building and we very much appreciate the support from councillors.”
Collings says the board has a lot of work to do around renovations and working out how to best utilise this building for the benefit of the wider community.
“I personally believe and will be suggesting to my board that we need to form an independent trust with representatives from the community to act as a vehicle to take this project further,”
The Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Paul Young are celebrating the decision.
“I am grateful to the hard work of the local board, and to my fellow councillors, for achieving this outcome,” says Stewart.
Councillor Young says, “It will be wonderful to have this building restored and made fit-for-purpose for the benefit of the Howick community.”
The board is required to present an update on the progress of their proposal to the committee in February 2019.