Photos: Adorable Ella on her way to kindy & my neighbour Chris who has used AT Local over 600 times.
The day our third child finally starts primary school (in 67 days to be exact) my husband and I will be popping the bubbles. We have earned it.
Motherhood, in those early years, wasn’t something I was particularly adept at. I often envied those mums that made it look easy, knowing that I made it look like the most stressful job on the planet. I think my husband probably shed tears of relief when I conceded it was time to head back to work.
After my second child turned one I started to look through SEEK. I was after a part-time, flexible, engaging job (was I being too picky?). As the primary care giver (as women predominantly are) it would fall on me to be the one to drop off and pick up the children from their preschool, or rapidly drop what I was doing in response to a toddler-sized health crisis. This responsibility was something I willingly accepted because I still wanted to be as present as I could, meeting my children’s various needs.
Finding a job with such specific requirements was not easy. In a city as big as Auckland, where 800 additional cars are added to the roads every week, transport and access was soon included to that list of criteria. In my case, I did get that particular job and was lucky to do so, but it dawned on me that my return-to-work-checklist was probably the same for many mothers (or primary caregivers) wanting to re-enter the workforce. And therein lies the rub.
Where local jobs are few and far between working women are forced to widen their search and their ability to do that is dependent upon transport and access. How easy is it to get to work, and how easy is it to respond to a daycare drama or sick-bay situation? Typically coupled with a strong desire to make more environmentally sustainable choices, what women are seeking from their work commute is often different to their male counterparts.
With that challenge in mind, it stands to reason that I want to meet the brains behind Auckland Transport’s AT Local trial and give them the best kind of high five. The sort of high five where every digit connects in the space in-between and the ‘clap’ leaves a warm prickle in the palm of your hand. This is rare indeed, but it indicates how awesome I found AT Local to be; and I was not alone.
AT Local ran as a 2-year trial offering locals on the Devonport Peninsula an unparalleled public transport service - an on-demand electric rideshare vehicle that collected individuals from anywhere within a designated area and delivered them to the ferry terminal (or other destination). It was rapid, reliable, comfortable and made the most of clean energy. At times I made friends and often caught rides with neighbours. It was social and it was community building. It was all kinds of awesome. Importantly, for many local parents, it was the portal through which they could access every employment opportunity our country’s biggest city could offer in the CBD.
From its inception the Local Board should have championed the concept because if it proved successful (which it did), Devonport Peninsula may have been able to retain it, and better still, it could have been replicated in other areas where access is lacking. It was an innovative solution that offered the type of public transport ease working parents are so in need of.
When consultation went out on whether or not to retain the AT Local in some form, the majority of responses were in favour of doing so. Majority too were women (55% + some who preferred not to say) and for the first time ever we saw massive engagement from the under 65s (76% with majority sitting in the 35-54-year groups) Sadly, due to the ongoing cost, and inability for the service to grow as demand grows, it was decided that AT Local would cease in favour of a better designed bus service. This leaves a bunch of AT Local users having to rethink the way they get to work, as not all in the AT Local area can access the new bus network, and indeed 188 of the 704 responses said they’ll now have to start driving their own private vehicle. One mother emailed me with her quandary:
"For environmental, financial and access to transit reasons my family made the conscious decision to be a single vehicle family. Having the AT Local available to us, was a factor in that decision. I rely heavily on the AT Local service to get to and from work as well as to and from my daughter’s Kindy (which is not directly accessible by bus) anywhere from 2-4 days per week.
As of February 27th, in order to get her to Kindy, we are going to have to drop our oldest daughter at school, wait for the 814 Bus which will take us only to the corner of Robertson Ave and Lake Road. We will then have to walk 15-20 minutes to the Kindy. We will be late. After drop-off, I will have to reverse the process in order to get to work in the village. While I understand that this is doable, the whole process ends up taking approximately 90 minutes for what is effectively a 2.6km journey with a pre-schooler. This therefore does not allow me to start work until 10am. If I have to repeat the process for pick-up, I am forced to finish work at around 1:45pm (bus schedule dependent) and have to pull my youngest out of Kindy early so that we can be on-time to pick up my oldest."
This genuine predicament that we’ve forced one family in to is not an isolated one, it’s one of many and I received plenty of emails, calls and messages from working parents whose households are mourning the loss of this enabling public transport service.
As an app-based public transport offer, AT Local was not widely used by those over 65 (who are in fairness, big public transport users). Many found the service to be overly complex, requiring a degree of digital literacy that some did not possess. Given my own 10-year refuses to let me use the remote because I keep pressing the wrong buttons, I’m increasingly understanding this dilemma. Auckland Council and Auckland Transport take access incredibly seriously (and rightly so), but I’d like to set a challenge and ask that ALL barriers that ALL individuals have in accessing public transport, be they real or perceived, are addressed in our public transport network design. Public transport shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ model, because some barriers to transport impact not just an individual but at times whole families. Those barriers may be the difference between whether a parent works or not, or whether a child has a parent ready and waiting at school pick up. In my view, AT Local was a great success, and if it ever returns, I’ll have another reason to be popping the bubbles, and I'm sure many locals will want to join me.
On December 1st 2020, Mayor Goff released his proposal for the 2021-2031 10-Year Budget. This proposal is out for public consultation from today (22 Feb) until 22 March. Following public feedback the final decisions for the budget will be made in May and adopted by the Governing Body in June this year.
For those who are interested I thought I’d write a basic breakdown of what adoption of the budget in its current form means for us all, because if you care about investment in our infrastructure, if you're concerned about climate change, and you're a rate payer - this budget will affect you.
Before I begin however, I must first articulate the backdrop in which the 10 Year Budget has been formed; in 2020 Council was down $450million in forecasted revenue due to the impacts of Covid, add to that the unexpected $224mill cost in water supply & treatment needed to respond to the drought and water demands of the city, and an additional $500million increase in the City Rail Link project. It’s clear to see, Council is low on the dough. Not only that, the previous 10 year budget saw an unprecedented investment in Auckland’s infrastructure due to historic underfunding of roads, public transport, cleaning up waterways and protecting our natural environment; these are costs that can’t be easily delayed or deferred. Climate change and environmental degradation doesn’t just fix itself because we’re now responding to a global pandemic, continued investment in this area is critical. We also have a massive portfolio of community facilities that are ageing and not always meeting existing or future need. These facilities require significant investment so that they are fit for purpose, and this is more than we can afford. In a nutshell, it’s all a little bit grim.
The 10 Year Budget now out for consultation is about recovery, not austerity. We can’t simply slash & burn necessary projects that are in the pipeline, and nor can we keep cutting jobs. We must continue to invest in our city, get the things done that we’ve been crying out for, and stimulate the economy by creating employment. We need optimism and a shared understanding of how our collective action will best serve the place we call home.
The Mayoral Proposal itself is a decent 17 page read that is well worth a squizz if you have the time. For those that don’t, here are the main points:
This all sounds a bit painful to the average Aucklander, but the funding raised by lifting the debt to revenue ratio for 3 years and the one off 5% rate increase will enable Council to deliver up to $900 million more for infrastructure projects, priority renewals of transport assets and community facilities.
Climate action continues to be an important focus for Auckland Council as we know irrefutably that climate change is a significant threat to our economy, environment and way of life. In June 2019 Auckland Council unanimously declared a Climate Emergency, and so this Long Term Plan must speak strongly to the steps we want to take in response to this threat. NZ is behind in reducing its emissions targets under the Paris Agreement. On 31 Jan the Climate Change Commission released an important report on how we can decarbonize the economy and thankfully our Prime Minister has stated NZ will move full steam ahead to reach our climate change goals. It’s heartening to know that central government is on the same page as Auckland Council and that together we can start to make a meaningful difference.
Auckland Council has a goal of reducing greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2030 and be net zero by 2050. This budget will increase expenditure on climate action by around $150 million and some of the new actions include: the cessation of purchasing diesel buses from this year ensuring that we have 50% of our bus fleet electric or hydrogen by 2030. Planting 11,000 more street trees and establishing a nursery to grow 200,00 seedlings a year. Planting an additional 200 hectares of native forest to offset emissions. Expanding the resource recovery network. Increasing energy efficiency at Council’s facilities. Planning for coastal change and responding to natural hazards. These steps are only some of what is outlined in the proposal and are in addition to what is already happening at a Council and community level. My only concern here is that $150 million doesn't actually go that far, and I would want to ask Auckland Council to make an even greater pledge than what is contained in the plan.
Transport is also important for our communities. There are 800 new cars added to Auckland’s roads each week. Congestion sucks big time and it’s getting worse. The Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) is tasked with responding to this problem. The solutions, of course, rely on the delivery of a resilient, connected, public transport network that meets the needs of communities in all parts of Auckland. We all do our bit by making choices that allow us to localize – work, study, shop and play locally and embrace active modes and public transport. Remember, you're never stuck in traffic, you are traffic. So supporting inviduals to desired destinations by delivering a quality PT network is hugely important.
Community services and facilities is another area addressed in the Mayoral proposal. Council has always provided community services through building and then operating fixed assets. This means we have a very large network of community facilities. Sadly, some are ageing and no longer meeting the needs of the community where they are placed. As the portfolio grows, so does the level of funding required to meet the maintenance and operational costs of those assets. Local Boards were informed that for us to bring these assets up to standard, a 3.5% rates increase would be needed to meet this specific funding gap alone. Quite clearly that’s never going to happen, and so the Mayoral proposal recommends that Local Boards look closely at their community facilities, their usage, their gaps in provision and find ways to deliver things differently. This means disposing of underperforming assets and using those funds to deliver something better, more versatile and more responsive to current and future need. This is an approach I support, as I have seen many times Council assets that are degrading, under-utilized, ignored, unkempt. I believe we need to release the value of those assets and deliver better for our communities.
Other areas that are discussed in the proposal, but which I won’t go into any detail, are areas such as social investment, things like the community and environment grants and funds that Council make available so that communities and groups can be empowered to realise what they want to see in their neighbourhooods. Māori outcomes is another area discussed, whereby the Mayor rightly reasserts Council’s commitment to Treaty-based partnerships with Māori and in particular mana whenua.
Environmental protection is discussed. This covers our continuation of the Water Quality Targeted Rate and Natural Environment Targeted rate that funds the work going on in the Wairau catchment, Kaipara Harbour, and the central interceptor project that responds to the region-wide wastewater overflows. Water supply is discussed, as it should be after the major drought we experienced last year and will continue to experience as years go by.
For some engaged citizens this Long Term Plan won't go down well. Council does get a strong response from rate payer lobbyists who prefer not to pay any more into the city. I get it. Rates are not fun to pay. The truth is, we all have a role to play in shaping Auckland into the city we want to live in. Rates account for about 40% of Council revenue and without them, we wouldn’t get the investment we need in our services and infrastructure. Auckland Council, whether you know it or not, has a massive impact on your daily life; just look at your roads, are they sealed, are potholes repaired? Is traffic moving (not always!)? Is there public transport? Is there a library or swimming pool or community house nearby and what’s the cost to you of using that facility? Are there galleries you can go to, or museum exhibitions to attend? Are there events you love? Music in the parks, movies in the parks, out and about sports programmes for kids. Are your streets swept? Are the trees along the road corridor maintained to prevent powerline faults and are the weeds kept at bay? Do you have water flowing from your taps and showers? Are there cycleways and walking paths in your neighbourhood, and do your children love playing at local playgrounds? I’m yet to live in a city where all these services come for free. Paying our rates and fees is our way of making Auckland work and if we can keep pushing forward together then I know that what will emerge is a city we’re all proud to call home.
So please have your say here.
A new year. After a much-needed break I’ve finally caught my breath and had a chance to reflect on the year that has just been, as well as what’s up ahead. This coming April we will have a change of Chair for the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, as we switch from Aidan Bennett as current Chair and George Wood as Deputy to Ruth Jackson as Chair and Jan O’Conner as Deputy. I’m looking forward to another 18 months of progressing important issues for the community, working as best as we can in the tough financial climate and continued uncertainty that COVID has brought to all.
After nearly 18 months I definitely feel like I’m better equipped to manage the ol’ game of politics better than I did when I started. If I was honest, I put my hand up for this gig quite naively as I saw it simply as a community role, a natural segue from my previous job as Business District Manager for Devonport. Truly I was shocked when someone referred to me as a politician; a name I thought was singularly reserved for central government. Strangely (to me) there’s plenty of politics that go on at a local level, and when you’re not a political animal yourself, this can be a massive challenge to overcome and I expect is one of the primary reasons why so few people stand for the role. I’ve been doing my best to allay fears and encourage some other fantastic people to stand alongside Aidan and myself next time round – so watch that space. The truth is, the role is such a privilege and actually brings me much joy. As my 40th birthday inches closer in March, it does bother me that I’m the youngest Member sitting at the table and I hope that next time round we can bring an even more youthful voice to the mix.
From the very beginning Aidan and I wanted to bring a ‘fresh approach’ which in a nutshell is about taking the politics out of it and just getting good stuff done for the community. I think we’ve done that and have managed to progress a few great things that I wanted to share with you below:
The PT Picture for Devonport
In light of the imminent cut to the Stanley Bay Ferry and the question in the air over whether we stick with the 807/806 buses or include AT Local, this post is looking at elements of our PT picture for the Devonport Peninsula.
Auckland is growing at an exponential rate. It’s a city of 1.7mill and stretches from Wellsford to Pukekohe. If there are two cars on average per household, that’s a massive demand being placed upon our roads. The Auckland Harbour Bridge is the most travelled route in NZ with 171,000 vehicles taken on it daily, and 30,000 public transport trips. Current and future growth is already placing a strain on the crossing and so a business case has been developed by Waka Kotahi to create a more resilient transport network. This will eventually include a new rapid transit connection from the CBD to the North Shore that supplements and integrates with an upgraded Northern Busway and PT network.
You may wonder why a rapid transit connection rather than a new bridge for cars? I think in this case it’s a bit more than simply responding to the climate crises. Ultimately we’re a city that lacks good public transport. Until we adequately invest in this area, we will never see behaviour change. We’ve already learned that building more roads just leads to an increase in single occupancy vehicles, and that this infrastructure and transport model is not sustainable. A city such as Perth is smaller than Auckland and yet PT use is higher. Why? Because in Perth, they built the network, they prioritized it. We need to accept that this is the future for Auckland’s transport investment. We’re a growing city and we simply can’t accommodate that many more cars on the road.
This is why I have been really disappointed with the cuts to the PT system on the Peninsula and I know many others have too. It’s important though, to understand why these cuts are being made and what some of the solutions and improvements may be.
Let’s start with the Stanley Bay Ferry, which, from early next year, will no longer run. The decision to suspend this service was influenced by the following points:
On the bright side, $150,000 of the $ saved from this service is going into improving the 806/807 bus service which will better connect people in Stanley Bay and Cheltenham to the Devonport Ferry Terminal.
In my opinion the AT Local got some bad political press when it first launched. Some LB Members from the previous term considered it was an elitist taxi service for the well-heeled Devonport. However, the intention for the pilot was to see if an on-demand ride share service could successfully reduce the number of cars on the road. If yes, then ideally it would be rolled out in other areas. Influencers should have reserved their judgement until the end of the trail to give it the best conditions to roll out.
Devonport was an ideal location to test its success, because of the user dependency on the Lake Road corridor, the key Ferry destinations that commuters were wanting to be connected to, and the 3km radius that captured a large number of dwellings.
The other complaint I often heard about the Local service was the concern about its level of subsidy. Obviously as it began, the subsidy was higher, because it takes time for people to try new things out. Now, though, its daily trips surpass their target and the subsidy is $9.75 per ride vs $9.28 for a bus ride.
It’s worth too, looking at AT’s measurements of success.
I personally love the convenience of the AT Local, and given its reliability, ease of use, and comfort many locals have taken to making it their PT option of choice. My neighbour, in fact, uses it every morning and every night, connecting him to the ferry and back again. Like our family of 5, his family of 4 only have one car. When PT is that good, you don’t need another. I will be waiting with great anticipation on whether or not we get to retain this innovative, electrically-charged PT solution.
Water storage dams, which form a key source of municipal water supply, are at an historic low. This should not be news to anyone, and if the education campaign is working, you’re beginning to value your water as being more precious than ever before.
Auckland’s population is estimated to grow by 720,000 by 2048, so we need to be putting in place a range of strategies that address this water crises. One such strategy is making it more permissive to install rainwater tanks in urban and rural parts of Auckland, as well as in areas with special character overlay. Being able to water the vege garden to support household food resilience should be a given, but if you're in the same boat as me, the only people rejoicing at the shriveled up silver beet are the kids. I need water.
On 25 June the Governing Body agreed in principle to remove unnecessary restrictions on the installation of rainwater tanks through a change to the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP). The Governing Body also requested staff investigate how rainwater tanks be made mandatory in a number of situations including the construction of new dwellings.
One of the problems with the AUP is that it unintentionally discourages the use of rainwater tanks because it defines tanks over 1m in height as a building. This means installation of rainwater tanks must follow development standards which limit where a tank can be placed on a site. In space-constrained sites, there are side and rear boundary rules that require a 1m distance for where a tank is placed, and if this is breached, a resource consent is then required. Another issue is building coverage. A rainwater tank counts towards the building footprint and if that goes over a certain percentage, a resource consent is once again needed.
Whilst there has always been the option to underground tanks, this requires excavation and earthworks and makes it difficult to identify future leaks. This means its more costly and challenging.
Auckland Council is now asking for your feedback on this proposed change. Please note however, if you intend to connect a tank to household plumbing, this will likely still need a building consent.
FILL IN YOUR FEEDBACK HERE (Closes 23 September).
Whenever I bump into people I know, the first question I get asked is, ‘How’s the Local Board going?’ My answer is always a bit cagey, because being on the Local Board is a huge privilege and something I really enjoy, but it’s also a massive frustration. As elected members we’re given the opportunity to enable amazing things to happen for the people in our community, but when the concept of ‘amazing things’ differs from person to person that sit at the table, my idea of a good opportunity can pretty quickly slip through my fingers, and I hate to say it, but the older set are the ones that get what they want more than us “younger ones” (read middle-aged & in the thick of the family stage).
The August Local Board Business Meeting, for me, was a great example of this. It was a good representation of how proper process and advice can be ignored, resulting in poor decision making. Who loses out? You. Me. Our neighbours. Our friends. Our community.
In this month’s meeting our job was to approve the annual work programme: it’s all the work budgeted to be achieved in our area for this financial year. As a Local Board we workshop the programme (multiple times), juggle the numbers, and receive guidance and insights by various subject matter experts who know what’s happening on the ground. Weirdly though, in this business meeting, all that previous work, all those meetings and expert guidance got thrown out the window as members of our Local Board dropped three environment and family-focused activities in favour of stuff that we were clearly told were an unnecessary spend of our rate payer dollar.
Of the 21 Local Boards ours spends the least amount of budget on environmental initiatives. Through public consultation we heard loud and clear that the community wants to see this change. At the beginning of the term the new Board stood united in their intention to respond to this issue. We were presented with some fantastic options that included a Bike Hub feasibility study, that would soon pave the way for a hub in our area, and an Eco-neighbourhoods project that would aim to support community resilience and low-carbon lifestyles. Along with Movies in the Park (another family appropriate and much-loved event) these new projects were ditched at the eleventh hour.
To fill you in on the details, there are 3 Bike Hubs in Auckland: Henderson, Massey and New Lynn and each hub has had on average 4250 people making use of the service each year. The intention is to get more kids on bikes, more people in the community with skills to maintain their bikes, and more bikes diverted from landfill. Bike hubs give those less privileged in the community access to super cheap serviced bikes (about 10% are gifted to those that need them), and mechanical skills are gained in an easy-going and inclusive environment. It provides opportunities for inter-generational connection as older volunteers support the operation by servicing the bikes and teaching important skills to young children. Funding the feasibility study was important for us to start the ball rolling, because we all know good things take time. It was only $10,000. Sadly however, it’s now dead in the water.
The eco-neighbourhoods programme is a fantastic initiative that encourages community connection and resilience. It’s been running for 5 years in the Albert-Eden local board area with 93% of participants expressing a desire to continue it beyond the programme. Eco-neighbourhoods bring like-minded neighbours together to learn new sustainable skills and share resources with one another. Examples of success can be found in neighbourhood food swaps, neighbourhood chicken coops, communal vege gardens, neighbourhood pollinator pathways, and loads more. In a time where neighbourhood connection and food resilience is important, this proposed project would have been widely taken up. Cost was $30,000. Sadly however, it’s now dead in the water.
The last intended activity that had been included in our work programme was Milford’s Movie’s in the Park which too, got the chop. ($15,000 event delivery cost).
So with the $55,000 budget clawed back, where did it go?
It went to topping up the hours of Takapuna Library to its current level of service. All libraries across Auckland are funded to be opened 56 hours each. The DTLB has historically topped up those hours by adding an additional 2 to Devonport Library and 4 to Takapuna to create a late-night Thursday. We are one of the few Local Boards that do this, and we are the one that invests the most in those additional hours. When we workshopped this, the Head of Community Libraries provided us with the hard data that those late-night hours simply weren’t being used in a valuable way. Visitation dropped from an average of 49 visitors per half an hour to 18, and at the cost of approximately $10,000 per hour per annum, this was not an effective spend of taxpayer dollar. Instead in our workshop we had in theory agreed to 2 additional hours in Devonport and 1.5 in Takapuna and 8 x 3hour study nights for students when exam time rolls in. This would have saved $30k to put to other projects, like the environmental ones that would meet the needs of more people in our community.
The other place where money was topped up was in our resilience planning for Civil Defence. Following what has been a challenging year it became apparent that the Local Board needs a clearer road map to respond to our community in times of crises. When we’re locked down, there are many vulnerable and isolated people in our community who need to be considered and responded to in a more localized way. Our support staff had scoped a programme that would complete a resilience plan. It would be the first step and the investigation would include a summary of next steps. It was going to cost $4000. Some of our members felt this wasn’t enough money, despite being informed it was. Attaching additional budget is a poor decision unless we’re given clarity on what that money will achieve – what are the deliverables, and who is doing the delivery? The advice we received was that “no further LDI operational funding is required for this project. If additional funds were allocated at this phase of the work programme process, they will unlikely get spent.” And yet, four members of the LB voted to increase the $4,000 to $30,000.
Now, you may think the Local Board had to make some hard decisions, pitting one priority against the next. You’ll hear members say that budgets are so tight not everything can be achieved. This is a red herring. You see, in our limited budget we have also set aside $249,000 for contestable grants. Grants are an important part of the budget because they allow community groups to deliver fantastic events and programmes for their community. I know its value, because I’ve been a recipient of those grants for the Devonport Arts Festival in the past. But our grants budget is big. It’s 20% of our Locally Driven Initiative budget and is far in excess of other Local Boards. (ie. Henderson-Massey, a local board with double our population allocates 7%). It was possible for our Local Board to keep all these projects in the work programme, top up the library hours, throw more money at Civil Defence resilience and still have a massive $194,000 in grants. So, when you hear members decry that there wasn’t enough money to do it all, don’t be misled. There was, there is. They simply decided that these projects were not valuable enough to them to have delivered in our Local Board area.
But when your voice is a minority at the table, it counts for nothing. I’m sad that we’ve lost those projects. That, to me, was a missed opportunity and I believe it’s time to question whether decisions being made are primarily to ensure the status quo, or are actually responding to the demand for change?
Is there a local sports ground or playground that you and your family use over and again? Do you care about how it's maintained and made use of?
We are now asking park and reserve users for feedback to support a new parks management plan in our Local Board area. There are currently 130 parks and reserves from Devonport up to Castor Bay and only 65 of them have plans; many of which are dated, such as the Bryan Byrnes Reserve 1983, or the Devonport Domain Reserve Plan 1993.
The new omnibus Devonport-Takapuna parks management plan will guide the management of local parks and reserves within the area, and current users of each reserve will be in a position to support the Council in identifying what’s important to each reserve.
The level of detail in the omnibus Local Parks Management Plan will be customised, according to the unique geographic, cultural, heritage, social and sporting values each park has. The content will be supported by bringing forward key information from the existing plans, and fleshing out details that speak to current use.
For instance, key parks such as Sylvan park are likely to have far more information and management direction than a standard pocket park, so whilst it’s an omnibus plan, each park will be treated differently and this will be reflected through the document.
One of the benefits of having a reserve management plan is that leases can be provided for (or contemplated) in the plan. If a lease is contemplated and is in conformity with an existing management plan, then this lease does not need to be publicly notified, meaning there is a cost and time saving. Individual plans can be easily amended and adapted, according to current use or newly identified values, as time goes on - so in essence, it will be a living document.
The online consultation is easy and quite fun. You can cruise across an interactive map dropping suggestions and comments at various locations, telling us what you love, what you want us to consider, what assets need to be included in the plan, and what conditions lease holders should have.
Alternatively you can join an online drop in session on August 4th 6-7pm.
Find out more here.
LEARN MORE & HAVE YOUR SAY HERE
One of the first things the new Devonport-Takapuna Local Board (DTLB) has progressed, with the hard work and support of our amazing Council staff, is the new Local Board Plan (LBP) 2020-2023. This is a high-level guiding document that sets the direction on where and how we invest in our area. The draft plan is now open for review and your feedback.
The draft LBP is the result of multiple workshops and a lot of stakeholder engagement, and I know many of you were a part of that process. This LBP is, I believe, a fantastic improvement on previous plans. Our section on transport shows a shift in thinking and states our intention to focus on environmental transport outcomes; projects that lead to a stronger take-up of active modes and asks for better-connected, affordable and efficient public transport. We want to see the progression of the Francis-Esmonde pathway which is the missing link in the Green Route from Devonport all the way to Esmonde Road. We want to see the Patuone path upgrade continue, connecting cyclists and pedestrians to Takapuna Metro Centre.
We state our intention to push hard on water quality to ensure our beaches are swimmable 365 days a year, and we’re committed to investing in projects that restore and enhance our natural habitats and grow our native biodiversity.
Most significantly, I believe, is that for the first time ever, we’re placing Māori Values as one of our 6 primary outcomes, recognizing how much this leads to better social, environmental and cultural outcomes for mana whenua, mātāwaka and all other members of the community.
So my friends, now is your opportunity to really shout loud about the things captured in this plan that are most meaningful to you – if cash is limited (and it is) where would you like to see it spent first? The plan doesn’t get into the detail of every single project, proposed or possible – so if there’s something you absolutely want us to push forward, then please note it.
The outcome areas are below, but if there’s a single thing you want to make sure we get done over the next three years, then be sure to comment on it in the space made available for comments.
It’s likely that the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board will have voluntarily let go of the $47mill funding packet to improve traveler throughput on Lake Road, pushing the project out for at least 10 years. Let that sink in.
Why? Because 4 out of the 6 members voted in last week’s business meeting against the proposed improvement plan that has been engineered, modeled and rigorously consulted upon for the last 3 years. The body of work produced by the engineers at BECA and the Auckland Transport (AT) project team cost ratepayers just on two million dollars. When we hear the old cry of ‘more for the shore’ and ‘where are all our rates going’ I can’t help but point the finger because we seem to have a habit of stopping things in our neighbourhood, despite the battle cry for greater investment.
The primary criticism of the 4 members on the proposal was that it doesn’t “fix” Lake Road. Fixing Lake Road means easing traffic congestion. They felt that the proposed design doesn't do this. And it's true, for some people nothing will change, but for many others it will make a massive difference.
So what does Auckland Transport's 2020 Lake Road Improvement proposal do?
Let’s just hope AT doesn’t give up on us just because 4 of my fellow DTLB members gave it the thumbs down. It is time for a fresh approach to Lake Road – let's get it done!
Documents & Links:
1. Recommended feedback on Lake Road_Aidan & Toni
2. Resolved feedback on Lake Road_4 Board Members.
3. Lake Road Improvement Plan info
4. 2020 Public feedback
5. Indicative Business Case
In a recent Local Board Business meeting I was proud to vote in favour of the new Takapuna Town Square design which is due to begin construction from mid-2021 onwards. Towards the end of June the public will be able to have their say on the design, as well as give an indication of whether they’d like to see the ANZAC cenotaph, currently located at The Strand, relocated there for our annual ANZAC commemoration.
It’s been a bit of a journey to get here with some strong public opposition to selling the carpark to make way for the development. Three of our Local Board members spearheaded this opposition and so it makes sense that they voted against the design. I still found this to be disappointing though, because it sends a signal that they didn’t think much of the design. I argue we couldn’t have asked for more. It’s also worth remembering that the decision to move forward with the development was approved by Auckland Council's Planning Committee and is going ahead regardless of Local Board views. To my line of thinking we need to put old battles behind us and do what we can to push for the best outcomes and work in a positive and productive way to support its success. This is actually one of the reasons why I stood for Local Board, as I didn’t think these views were being reflected by our former local board; Aidan and I always said we would stand for the silent majority.
Auckland’s Unitary Plan identifies Takapuna as one of 10 metropolitan centres to experience strong future growth. We can already see evidence of this as new apartment complexes such as The Maison, Alba and Sargeson have cropped up, bringing more people into the area, and creating a demand for a better-functioning urban realm that’s connected to the Lake and glorious Takapuna beach.
Panuku, AC’s development arm, has been working hard with stakeholders to propose something quite awesome for Takapuna. So awesome in fact, they were awarded a Green Star Communities rating for exceptional master planning. Takapuna is finally getting the investment it needs and I know how much people will love it. The new town square design has been workshopped with the Local Board and there has been extensive mana whenua input into how looks and feels, as well as its overarching Kaupapa.
In its current state Takapuna seems built around a large carpark that only experiences life on a Sunday morning when the much-loved Takapuna Markets commandeer the area. The new proposal will see about a 6000sqm area sold for commercial and residential developments in order to fund a fantastic 3200sqm town centre. This new town centre will offer easy access to the Takapuna Beach Reserve via Hurstmere Green, it will front onto the major bus terminus and connect to Shore City Shopping centre. It will be the absolute beating heart of Takapuna. It will be a beautifully designed open space that offers interesting event configurations to enable a range of activations, events, gatherings and purposes 7 days a week; not just on a Sunday morning.
The town centre concepts have been created by integrated design group Isthmus. Conceptually the design is inspired by ‘Whiria te tanga’ – weaving the people together. It will be a place where people gather, learn, play, create, connect and be inspired. The design itself speaks strongly to the coastal township, and material used will reflect the lava flows of Pupuke with the inclusion of basalt paving, seating that appears like coastal scoria flows, and a water feature in the sunniest spot and dining precinct (so parents can have a life too!) that reflect the ‘puna’ (spring) of Takapuna. Cutting through the area, creating an axis to the sea, will be pou, a line of cultural markers that lead the eye to Rangitoto. Close to the play area in Potters Park will be a new ‘whare wānanga’ – tree house structure for play and learning. Planting will offer shade in summer, colour, texture and cooling, to offset against the new buildings, and with links to Hurstmere Green and Potters Park there will be an abundance of green.
The existing market can continue to operate, taking the newly formed centre, the area at 38 Hustmere Road and spill across into Hurstmere Green. This will create better synergy with the existing retailers in the area and will inspire new opportunities for how we use the space. It must be noted, however that any market stalls that require a car, will not be able to be on the new town centre and may instead be relocated to Hurstmere Road. If utilized as an event venue, the area can accommodate 1600 people.
So as to provide a balanced report on what the design means for those that intend to use the space, some of the following concerns are ones that I’ve heard often, and so I thought I’d answer them as best I can with images below for clarity:
So, taking the above points into consideration, I have zero fear for this project. I only have great optimism and am proud to be in a position to back it. My kids and all their mates who will grow up in this area will be the ones that love it most. We’re creating a fantastic, vibrant, metro centre where job opportunities are abundant and we can all enjoy a better connection to our beach and reserves. We’re creating more opportunity for people to live in arguably one of the best areas in Auckland, and with it will come a town centre that will weave us all together. Whiria te tangata. Bring it on, I say.
Elected member of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board for the 2019-2022 Election Term.