Q + A June 2014

Feedback from our Q + A session in response to the 10th April Community Consultation. Local resident sat at the ACA round table with Catherine Farmer, Chair of the Whau Local Board who answered questions supported by Mark Allen, Senior Local Board Advisor, Local Board Services West.

Here is what some residents asked:

What is the Avondale development programme ?

It is a wide range of projects by different Council departments to develop Avondale.

In the Auckland Plan, Avondale is defined as a regeneration centre, why has no money been allocated for projects ?

The first budgets of Auckland Council were all based on previous Council budgets. Auckland City had not put any money in its budget for Avondale’s development. This next budget will be the first to deliver the Auckland Plan. The Whau Local Board has been working to get the planning done to try and get new money for Avondale.

Have all the projects been decided and funded already?

No. The Board knows there is more to do and there are lots of ideas for projects by local residents, businesses and community groups and new ideas will come along.

What has the Board been doing then?

The Whau Local Board have supported Avondale projects like doing up Tait Park, Rhythm at Riversdale event, supporting the Avondale Community Action Group, Avondale Business Association planning, increased lighting in the Avondale Town Centre and the renovation of the old toilets on Rosebank Road.

The Board also asked for work on what Whau’s recreation needs were, how best to support the arts, setting up of an environment programme database, creating an economic development plan and a Greenways (walking-cycling) plan for the Whau .

In Avondale specifically the Board supported starting some thinking on the Avondale town centres layout and that identified three priority areas for more work:
•            Avondale Jockey Club
•            Highbury Triangle
•            Racecourse Parade area

What about the Park and Ride idea for the land next to the rail station ?

The Board asked Auckland Transport to look at a Park and Ride on the vacant land next to the rail station. It is owned by Kiwi Rail.  It is still being used for building the electric rail. They don’t want to sell it as they might need in the very long term. Auckland Transport is working on a Parking Policy for all of Auckland. The Board has asked for Auckland Transport to do a parking plan for Avondale to support planning for Park and Ride.

Why has Council looked at relocating some or all of the community and library facilities?

The urban planning thinking showed that having the community facilities in the middle of the town centre near the rail station would make the centre work better for local people and small businesses. The shift would also encourage better quality housing to be developed in the town centre and the creation of new neighbourhood paths and roads connecting the edge of the racecourse and the sports fields to the town and the bus and rail station.

If a supermarket was to come to Avondale, experience elsewhere and traffic planning shows that probably the best location for other local businesses and traffic would be on the edge of the town centre near Rosebank Road.

What are the three options Council is investigating for community facilities?
  1. Rebuild community centre on current site, leave Library as is, put more indoor and outdoor recreation facilities in centre of Avondale.
  2. Rebuild Community centre in middle of town. leave Library where it is , put more indoor and outdoor recreation facilities in centre of Avondale.
  3. Rebuild Community centre and Library in the middle of town. Build more indoor and outdoor recreation facilities in centre of Avondale.
Has anything been decided on these options for community facilities?

No

Is there any budget set aside specifically for Avondale community, library and leisure facilities?

Not at the moment. The Board is advocating for money to be put into the Council’s Long Term Plan (LTP).

When is the LTP funding decision made?

A draft LTP is published in January, public can submit in February and the Governing Body will decide the final budget in June 2015.

What can residents do to support Avondale getting funding ?

Put in submissions to the Local Board Plan, the Long Term Plan, attend local and regional consultation meetings, attend Council meetings where Avondale is being discussed, support local organisations discussing Avondale’s future, support getting local surveys showing need, talk to local and governing body politicians from across the region about Avondale’s need but also it being an opportunity for the region.

What is happening about pools in Avondale?

The Whau Board has continued to support a $1m facility partnership with Avondale Primary School. It has also continued to advocate to the governing body for more pool and recreation facilities in the Whau. The Board has funded a recreation study to support this and to guide the Board in what leisure facilities should be provided in Avondale in association with the community centre.

If the Primary school does not build a pool will Council build one in Avondale or in New Lynn or both?

That has not been decided. The governing body has been working on a Community Facilities Plan which will direct where new major facilities should go.  Recreation planners generally support Council should build major facilities, not lots of small ones and the Auckland Plan says any major facilities should be clustered and near bigger centres and transport. The difficulty is that often there is not land available easily in those centres to put these on. If this regional study confirms the need and the budget is available, the final location of a major pool in the Whau will be made by the Governing Body not by the Whau Local Board.

If Council does decide to move the Library and Community Centre, Council says it could then sell that land at Highbury Triangle. What land is Council looking to sell ?

Only the site of Library and Community Centre.

Is Council thinking of selling Tait Park?

No

Would Council shut the library or community centre before building a new one?

No. There is no thinking by the Board of cutting any services to Avondale even temporarily.

The Unitary Plan allows more homes to be built in Avondale, is Council planning for this?

Yes, both regionally and locally Council is looking how it can increase services as more people settle but do it in a way that costs the least. There is no easy answer for the whole region and in every community it is a different situation.

Council has talked about a supermarket possibly going on the community centre library site if they are moved. Has this decision been made?

No

Has a supermarket chain like Progressive Enterprises been approached already to buy the site?

No. During the initial thinking, supermarket planning people were consulted to understand their position more but this was firmly on the basis that if the land did became available for sale it would be put on the open market.

What is stopping a supermarket from being built now in Avondale mainstreet?

Supermarkets need to be the right size, to manage traffic issues and provide parking for customers and delivery trucks. The old 3 Guys site has a covenant stopping its use for a supermarket placed by a previous supermarket owner which cannot now be taken off easily.

Why were small-mid size supermarket Nosh unable to get consent to operate from site beside the Primary School?  Was getting the okay for selling alcohol from the Trusts a barrier ?

It is believed that the consent was not the issue but that a multi-site deal across the west between Nosh and the Trusts fell through.

Why can’t the council buy back the 3 guys site?

This could still be an option. The current owner is looking to do their own development at this time.

Why can’t the Suburbs Rugby building become the supermarket?

Urban and transport planners looked at this and managing traffic congestion is a big issue particularly getting onto Great North Road.  It would also need car parking which would probably need to go above or below. Going to two stories is costly.

What’s happening with negotiations with the Avondale Jockey Club ?

The council is seeking long term access to the sports fields rather than the current short term arrangements. A long term arrangement would mean that Council could then upgrade the grounds and changing rooms enabling more people to play more games accommodating future growth. Negotiations are still in progress.

 If Housing NZ is not planning on upgrading the Racecourse Parade accommodation, can you confirm that they are “leaky” buildings or not?

Council has been told that they are “not leaky buildings” and also that Housing New Zealand are not wanting at the moment to progress developing the site or be part of a wider development.

Does this mean the new site of the community centre and library would have the current Housing New Zealand next door?

Yes. The thinking is that putting in new facilities and a road will change the way the area works and people think of it and then neighbouring properties will want to follow.

How much is the current Community Centre and Library land worth?

Its current capital value is based on it community use and is listed as having a capital value of $1.6m. It is understood that if sold for commercial use it could sell for a lot more.

If Council sold that land would that money come back to Avondale?

No. Council does not budget like that. Money from sales goes on the income side of the books and development of new facilities goes on the expenditure side. It could not be sold unless new facilities were built elsewhere. The Board believes that having income from the sale of the land should make this project more attractive than others elsewhere across the region. It also would enable better roading and walking links

Ross Clow says: “Because there is no legacy money for Avondale, I, the Local Board and staff are trying to come up with a funding formula for the town centre development that goes someway to being cost neutral. Hence, the discussion around the Highbury library / community centre site being important as we as a community need to be creative to convince the Governing Body that we have a sound business case for the redevelopment of Avondale.”

How does Auckland Council sell sites?

Auckland Council has a separate organisation called Auckland Council Property Limited (ACPL) who sells Council land. It is a “council controlled organisation”, a CCO. Once Council has identified it has land it does not need ,the land is transferred to ACPL to progress its sale. ACPL can take into account Council’s wider desires for areas in developing its sale documents and assessing tenders.

 If the community wanted the new facilities in the centre of town and wanted to keep the current site, is that possible?

Potentially but this would make it much more expensive and it is unlikely it would get political support as it would cost ratepayers more.

Who decides about keeping the current site ?

The Governing Body including Ross Clow the local Councillor will decide what gets funded. The Local Board decides the design of the facility. The Local Board can and will provide their view to the Governing Body.

Can the community put a covenant on the land to stop it being used for a supermarket?

No, we understand that only landowners can do that. Although people in the community could petition the landowner, Council, to do this.

Other Landowners “next to“ this proposed council plot (Highbury Triangle), might be awaiting possible sale to a said supermarket chain as well. The size of the site could allow a big box development. If any covenants are put on the sale of the council site, will these be able to be applied to the private sale next door ?

No, Council has no control other than the district plan or Unitary Plan over privately owned land.

 How can the council guarantee to the people of Avondale that the money from the sale of community Centre site will all go back into Avondale Community Hub Development?

The Board will not relinquish use of the site for a Community centre and/or library unless new facilities are built.

Are we able to protect the green entrance to Avondale from Rosebank and Ash Street ?

It is already a road reserve and some is zoned open space. There is no intention to change it.

Instead of selling, could a more sustainable long term generation of funds of Highbury Court be an option? i.e.  to add more houses or facilities on that land that generate an income?

Highbury Court is owned by Housing New Zealand (HNZC). Council involved HNZ in the early discussions and they said that they are not looking to redevelop or expand that site.

Can the zoning of site at Rosebank Road / corner of Jomac Pl change so a supermarket can be built there?

Possibly. It is currently zoned mixed use and in the proposed Unitary Plan is proposed to be light industry. Planning people say they would probably want to be close to Avondale to get the local customers and the Great North Road / Ash Street thru traffic to Titirangi / Waitakere.

We also questioned whether Avondale is “Officially” recognised as a regeneration zone.  We have not received a straight answer but will continue asking…

Thanks for reading thru all this feedback, if you have more questions you would like answered email ACA avondalecommunityaction@gmail.com we’re sure there is more that we all need to know, and it would be good to have as much knowledge at hand before the next community consultation in July.