Ponsonby Park – August Update

Our (volunteer) Community-Led Design (CLD) group has been deeply saddened by the unexpected passing of long-serving group member Andy Smith on Thursday, July 8th. Tragically, Andy will now not get to see the fruits of his many years of advocacy work for the creation of Ponsonby Park. It is our hope that the final Park will be as bright, fun-filled, and community serving as was Andy and we recommit ourselves to the task he has left with us.

The work continues.

Auckland Council’s 10-year Recovery Budget* was formally passed by Council on 29th June.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “Despite a $750 million projected revenue loss caused by the pandemic, we have not imposed austerity measures that would put essential services and projects at risk. Instead, we have pulled every funding and fiscal lever we can to retain the essential services and investments our communities rely on”.

However, due to the revenue loss and fiscal constraints imposed due to Covid, the ‘One Local Initiative’ (OLI) programme has been severely constrained. The CLD group requested information via the ‘Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act’ to seek clarity around the OLI process, and we have been advised of the following;

  • In the 2021-2031 Long-term Plan (LTP) $361 million has been allocated to the OLI programme.
  • The budget allocation to the OLI’s is a continuation of the previously approved programme but the phasing or timing of the budgets has been adjusted to reflect the constraints and priorities for the regional approach to community facilities investment over the next 10 years in the LTP.
  • The OLI projects are being progressed through council’s Investment Development Framework and subsequent LTP prioritisation. Through the LTP prioritisation the Orewa Seawall and Flat Bush Library and Community Centre have been identified as the next priority projects.
  • Allocation of funding to progress other projects is dependent upon a phased approach to be confirmed after year FOUR of the 2021-2031 LTP.
  • Allocation of budget to specific OLI projects will be confirmed through future Annual Plan and LTP decisions.

This is not the news the CLD group, the community, the local businesses nor visitors to Ponsonby wanted to hear. A delay of four years is significant and prolonged. Although these are exceptional times, we had hoped our Ponsonby Park project that has so successfully been developed via a Community-Led Design model, with all zoning requirements in place, and adjacent to the city centre, would have been an ideal ‘shovel ready’ project to progress sooner.

It has been 21 years since the need for the new civic space was identified and 15 years since the land was purchased. The Waitematā ward is one of the fastest-growing areas in Auckland with its population projected to grow by 35% in the next 30 years. Both the wider and local communities have shown significant and sustained engagement for the Ponsonby Park project. And why wouldn’t they when it has so much to offer? It will be an urban oasis that will be good for the people, good for the environment, and good for Auckland.

So we will continue our advocacy work, alongside the Waitematā Local Board and we hope to see the development of Ponsonby Park begin (much) sooner than anticipated in the 2021-2031 Long-term Plan. To facilitate this, we are planning a series of community action events. These will give the Waitematā Local Board robust evidence of the community’s desire for Ponsonby Park to be enacted earlier than currently indicated. With our increased support, the Board will be in an even stronger advocacy position.

Ponsonby Park – Ready now!

Full documents available: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/plans-projects-policies-reports-bylaws/our-plans-strategies/budget-plans/The-10-year-budget-2021-2031/Pages/default.aspx

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