AUCKLAND COUNCIL ENLIVENS DEMOCRACY THROUGH REAL COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Public participation is the foundation of democracy.
When community participation programmes work, Council processes are enhanced and the outcomes are always improved. They enable Council to understand and be responsive to, the needs of Auckland’s communities. Community engagement has the ability to build networks, grow leaders, and bring about a more collaborative style of governance which encourages participation in the democratic process. However, if poorly managed, community engagement programmes can lead to disillusionment, increased apathy, and the creation of roadblocks for future consultation.
Our Community-led Design process for the development of 254 Ponsonby Road, aka ‘Ponsonby Park’ (implemented by the Waitemata Local Board in conjunction with Auckland Council) offered people the opportunity to actively engage in the development of their neighbourhood and community.
In order for this to happen, we needed to make becoming involved and informed, easy and accessible. So one of the first things we did was to create a comprehensive communications strategy. This enabled us to reach and update people and receive feedback on a routine basis. The strategy included; email, social media, letter-box drops, creating in-person events, and hosting information sessions. It also included the ongoing and sustained support of local media such as the fabulous Ponsonby News! (Thank you, Martin).
It has taken a great deal of time, energy and commitment by the volunteer members of the Community-led Design group to gain unanimous Council approval for the whole site civic open space at 254 Ponsonby Road. And we were in turn empowered and enthused by the community, who provided a clear vision of what was wanted and needed. This give and take has enabled everyone involved to embrace the patience, perseverance, and motivation required to continue on until the project is fully realised.
Community engagement needs a collaborative approach, balanced by setting clear guidelines, goals, and outcomes for the community. The Community-led Design process for ‘Ponsonby Park’ has not only developed and met such requirements, but it has exceeded expectation of what it was hoped the process would achieve. It engaged the local community and many of the local businesses who offered tangible, sustained and ongoing support. It has also had involvement by both local and international visitors to Ponsonby and the wider Auckland region.
The LandLAB Park+ design has won the prestigious international ‘World Architecture News – Future Civic category’ award. And was also shortlisted in the ‘World Architecture Festival’, ‘Future Civic’ category.
Not bad for a community-led project!
We all now look forward to the commencement of Stage One of the whole site civic open space at 254 Ponsonby Road, aka ‘Ponsonby Park’. This has been a true community-led engagement process that everyone including; Auckland Council, the Waitemata Local Board, the local residents, businesses and visitors, can all deservedly be proud to have collaborated on together.
Ponsonby Park – BRING IT ON!
For further information see our Facebook page Ponsonby Park