A brief word on Auckland Council privatising our public spaces

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I am so sick and tired of Auckland Council selling off Aucklanders public space to corporations in exchange for some bullshit ‘public access’

The Auckland Council is in talks to privatise a section of Queen Elizabeth Square as part of a $300 million redevelopment by Precinct Properties of the Downtown Shopping Centre, say sources.

They say the council is looking at a deal with Precinct Properties for public space outside the Downtown Shopping Centre where a stand of kauri and a basalt fire rock occupy a shaded and windswept part of the square.

A three-storey podium could be built over the area in exchange for a public laneway being included in the development. The deal could include a financial payment from Precinct to the cash-strapped council.

The possible sale of public space at QEII Square follows news yesterday that the council is considering two large commercial buildings on Queens Wharf in exchange for upgrading the downtown ferry terminal.

We already have public access because the space is open to the bloody public, flogging it off to a corporation is an obscenity. For those old enough, remember how QE2 Square was much larger? Remember how the bloody Council reduced that to half its size for the Britomart complex and now they want to sell the lot off do they?

There are a host of places in Auckland that removed public space for corporations in exchange for ‘public access’. It is access that is never publicised and is quickly forgotten. Sky City gained all the space above Federal street, these clowns want to chew up QE2 Square and we are at risk of losing access to one of our wharfs.

Privatising public spaces for corporations in exchange for ‘access’ is disingenuous bullshit and Aucklanders shouldn’t tolerate it for a second.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. I despair over the current trends that are apparent in Auckland Council and Auckland Transport, but believe it was what was intended all along.

    So much easier to “persuade” one body to hand over ownership in return for sops. Was at a Gen Zero meeting last year and spoke to a resident of Viaduct, who opined that the wharf should be developed for restaurants and bars.

    I suggested that as that prime waterfront belonged to the people of Auckland in it’s entirety – that a better alternative would be to ensure that it was a public space kept in perpetuity. Allowing families etc to come along to the middle of Auckland and enjoy the space and views.

    The response: A possum-caught-in-the-headlights stare for 30 seconds, and then “But businesses will thrive here”

    “So will people – who will enjoy and value this space – without the need to spend money”

    End of conversation. And that seems to be the way that Auckland conversations are going.

  2. I can see parks becoming private/public entities, with the government changing the local government act to say maintaining parks is not part of a council’s core activities. Businesses will be invited to maintain them, and then eventually charge for their use, and eventually sold off to them.

  3. I told some of you that this Unitary Plan is not going to be good for Auckland, even though I love to have a more progressive city. Read the damned small print, please, too many did not do it.

    Hence my and many others’ submissions are now sinking through, and we will have not seen the end of it for years to come.

    I do NOT trust Len and will never vote for him again, like I did 5 years ago, nor will I vote for any Natzies.

    • Marc, at one point was cautiously optimistic with the amount of public consultation going on with the Draft Unitary Plan.

      Found a couple of interesting ideas in a hard copy addition that included ideas like “shared value uplift” which is a mechanism used in other cities all over the world.

      In essence, when land is rezoned (and it is always rezoned upwards in development value), THEN when the land is developed, a proportion of that increase in value is given to council to help pay for infrastructure or community amenities.

      This is considered fair in cities like London, because the landowner has done nothing to increase value, and has not paid for a Private Plan Change or change of use. This economic benefit is done by the stroke of a pen.

      Of course, with the interference of Nick Smith and the cosy compromise of SHA’s, not only do landowners who meet the compact city ideas get this – but many others who have been landbanking and continue the sprawl are as well.

      I asked the Unitary Plan Manager, John Duguid, what happened to this mechanism in the Unitary Plan. The response: it was not considered worthwhile.

      This is one, but not the only one, example of why my cautious optimism was fairly easily replaced by my usual cynicism.

      • “was cautiously optimistic with the amount of public consultation going on with the Draft Unitary Plan”

        Ah, there’s that word ‘consultation’.
        We in Chch had the same thing – share an idea, now shut up and here’s a blueprint you never asked for.

        Consultation has become another neoliberal buzzword. It usually means the public gets a turn at speaking, but nobody is listening.

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