Thursday, April 18, 2024

Vote moves public reserves closer to sale

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Among the community leaders who oppose the potential sale of local reserves, including this one in Aberfeldy Avenue, are, from left, Botany MP and National Party leader Christopher Luxon, Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown, and Howick ward councillors Sharon Stewart and Paul Young. Times file photo Wayne Martin
  • By Chris Harrowell and Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter, Funded by New Zealand on Air

Auckland Council has moved one step closer to being able to sell several local public reserves but opponents say they aren’t giving up the fight.

Among the properties the council eyed for sale are reserves at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, Sunnyhills; 111R Golfland Drive, Botany, and 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, Pakuranga; a section at 72R Karaka Road, Beachlands; and part of the site of a gas station at 2R Ti Rakau Drive, Pakuranga.

A statutory process, being managed by Eke Panuku Development Auckland, must be followed before sites classified as reserves under the Reserves Act 1977 can be sold.

The council publicly notified its intent to revoke the reserve status of 20 properties across the city in February last year.

More than 1300 submissions were received, of which 1145 related to the east Auckland properties.

None were in favour of their reserve status being revoked.

Two independent commissioners appointed to consider public submissions heard from people who wished to share their views in person and completed site visits to the five local properties.

On June 9 their report recommending whether or not reserve status should be revoked was presented at a meeting of the council’s parks, arts, community and events committee.

The meeting’s agenda says approval was sought to submit a request to the Minister of Conservation to uplift the reserve status of the properties at 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 72R Karaka Road, and 2R Ti Rakau Drive.

It says the commissioners recommend the committee not proceed with the reserve revocation of 111R Golfland Drive.

“They [the commissioners] support the proposed reserve revocation for 72R Karaka Road and conditionally support the proposed reserve recommendation of 9R Fortyfoot Lane, 76R Aberfeldy Avenue, [and] 2R Ti Rakau Drive.

“The commissioners’ support is subject to council investigations into a community trust model to manage 9R Fortyfoot Lane.

“Council’s service and asset planning team has considered options for this but does not support any of them.

“The commissioners also recommended the provision of an improved road crossing from Aberfeldy Avenue to Lloyd Elsmore Park, prior to proceeding with the proposed reserve revocation.

“Staff are working with Auckland Transport to investigate improving pedestrian links and will report to the committee on 76R Aberfeldy Avenue at a later date.”

Howick ward councillor Paul Young said during the committee meeting while he approves of the council’s general approach to asset recycling he couldn’t support revoking the reserve status of 9R Fortyfoot Lane.

He said he was glad to see the commissioners reject reserve status revocation of 111R Golfland Drive and encouraged his fellow councillors to “save Fortyfoot Lane as well”.

The committee voted unanimously to approve submission of a request to the Minister of Conservation to uplift the reserve status of the properties at 72R Karaka Road and 2R Ti Rakau Drive.

A separate vote was held on the property at 9R Fortyfoot Lane.

It received 11 votes in favour and nine votes, including by Young and his fellow Howick ward councillor Sharon Stewart, against.

Following the meeting Stewart told the Times she was “really happy” with the decision on 111R Golfland Drive, but the vote on the reserve in Fortyfoot Lane was “very disappointing”.

She says she’ll put up a notice of motion to try to get it back to the council’s finance and performance committee to have it revoked.

“It’s a sad day for the Howick ward … once the land is sold, it’s sold and built on.

“At a time when we’re having so much intensification, we need this green space.”

Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown says he’s “incredibly disappointed” with the committee’s vote on 9R Fortyfoot Lane.

“With increasing intensification in east Auckland, it’s critical we protect and retain our green space.

“Auckland Council is [potentially] selling this land arguing the money is needed to backfill its budget.

“Before selling reserves they should be focusing on their own bloated bureaucracy.”

Brown says he’ll write to Conservation Minister Poto Williams expressing the community’s opposition and “requesting she does not revoke the Reserves Act status on this land”.

An Eke Panuku spokesperson previously said if the committee decided to forward a request to the Department of Conservation (DoC) to uplift the reserve status of some or all of the properties, as it has now done, all written submissions and the commissioners’ reports and hearing submissions will be included for consideration.

The final decision lies with the Minister of Conservation.

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