Ponsonby Park Update – A long and winding road
The Boffa Miskell report produced in 2000, confirmed the wider Ponsonby area was under-supplied with public amenity space. Consequently, the land at 254 Ponsonby Road was approved for purchase by Council in September 2006 for the creation of a civic open space. Within the decision to purchase the land, was the statement that the rear portion of the site was earmarked for potential sale. This statement was made both; – to enable funding of the future civic space and – because it was deemed surplus to any such planned development – at that time (2006).
Figure 1: Auckland Central Population Growth
In July 2013 the Waitemata Local Board (WLB) produced the Draft Ponsonby Road Masterplan, that included the open space project at 254 Ponsonby Road, and sought public consultation to guide further thinking. A key finding from this consultation was the intense interest in the planned development of the site.
In 2014 a petition with over 1240 signatures specifically requested the ‘whole of site’ civic open space option. This resulted in planning for the 254 Ponsonby Road site being “de-coupled” from the Ponsonby Road Masterplan process and a project-specific consultation was carried out from September – December 2014. Over 77% of respondents (533 of the total 698) to the site-specific consultation chose the ‘whole of site’ option for the development of the civic open space at 254 Ponsonby Road.
In March 2016 the project was devolved to the community by the WLB, who established a group of local stakeholders with the brief to; ‘Develop a design concept with an indicative budget, for the whole of the site civic open space using Community-led Design principles’. Applying Community-led Design principles, a series of needs-based enquiry cycles were undertaken with the community – including analysis of the responses from the Ponsonby Road Masterplan submissions. Informed by this work, a series of discussion concepts were created in conjunction with Auckland University’s School of Architecture students, based on the needs and aspirations of the community. The public responses to all of these enquiry cycles led to the creation of the Design Brief which was taken up by 14 professional and volunteer landscape designers.
A clear majority of the 1208 final consultation process respondents chose the design submitted by LandLAB for the whole of the site, civic open space development at 254 Ponsonby Road. This consultation process included a physical exhibition, as well as an online virtual exhibition, of all the submitted designs. The LandLAB design was then formally presented to the WLB as the community’s chosen design along with an indicative budget. (That the LandLAB design is currently shortlisted in the prestigious international competition, World Architecture Festival, in the Future Civic Category www.worldarchitecturefestival.com/civic-future-project, is testament to the quality of the design).
Numbers of people involved in the Community-led design process
– 1243 signed the initial petition for a ‘whole of site’ open space development
– 698 responses to the WLB’s initial 254 Ponsonby Road consultation
– 190 respondents to the 1st CLD consultation
– 115 respondents to the 2nd CLD consultation.
– 1208 respondents to the 3rd CLD consultation.
This shows significant and sustained engagement by the Community.
The WLB then selected the whole of the site, civic open space at 254 Ponsonby Road project as their “One Local Initiative (OLI)” for inclusion in the 10-year plan. It received strong support with 60% of local residents, who responded to the 10-year Plan, expressing support for the OLI. Council Officers have now been tasked with preparing an assessment as to whether the decision to sell the rear portion of the site should be revisited. The assessment is required to base the evaluation on two of Council’s guiding documents being the:
• Parks and Open Space Acquisition Policy June 2013, and
• Open Space Provision Policy 2016.
The Community-led Design group has analysed both of these guiding Council documents and presented their report to the WLB at last months Local Board meeting on Tuesday 21st August.
The Overall Conclusion
The guidance of both the ‘Parks and Open Space Acquisition Policy 2013’ and the ‘Open Space Provision Policy 2016’ support and uphold the ‘whole of site’ development option for 254 Ponsonby Road.
Further to these Policy documents, Council has, over the past several years, repeatedly engaged in consultation with the local community presenting the ‘whole of site’ development as an option – one that has consistently been selected by the community as their preference. The decision to reconsider the retention or sale of the rear portion of the site now enables Council, with the support of the community and the Waitemata Local Board, to revisit this historical option. Therefore, the Community-led Design group has made the following recommendation.
Revisit the 2006 resolution and amend it to: Retain the entire site and develop it into a ‘whole of site’ civic open space as soon as is practicable.
If you would like to read the CLD report, please see our website 254ponsonbyrd.org.nz and search CLD Policy guidance report.