LGOIMA Response – 19 January 2022

The Community-Led Design group received the response below, to our LGOIMA request No. 8140009526, submitted in mid-November 2021. The bold type is the CLD group’s own emphasis.

19 January 2022 Official information request No. 8140009526

Tēnā koe
Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 Re: Further information re 254 Ponsonby Road
Thank you for your email of 18 November 2021 with a follow up request to LGOIMA 8140009060. Your specific request and our response are set out below.

  1. I am advised in your response to question 5 that’ “The $5.5M of funding currently allocated for the development of the new civic space at 254 Ponsonby Road is available but that “progressing the project is dependent on securing funding to its full budgeted cost” So how is it that Te Ara Tukutuku can be publicly promoted as “being completed in stages”?
    Council manages projects in a variety of ways depending on the individual needs of the project, available funding, etc.
    While there is currently no funding to deliver all components of the approved design for the civic space,
    the Local Board at a workshop in December 2021 confirmed support for a staged approach to the redevelopment of 254 Ponsonby Road and staff will progress the project on this basis.
    Budget will be allocated in Financial Year 2022/2023 for planning elements of the project including detailed design and community engagement; this is two years earlier than previously communicated. Funds for construction will be made available from Financial Year 2023/2024 onwards.
  2. How is it fiscally responsible for $5.5 M worth of ratepayer funding to be allowed to depreciate at (current level and increasing) 4.9% inflation?
    The impact of COVID has significantly impacted Council finances resulting in reduced budgets and the deferment of funding across a number of projects including Ponsonby Park.
    Private Bag 92300, Auckland 1142 | aucklandcouncil.govt.nz | Ph 09 301 0101
    As detailed in Q1, the Local Board has requested a staged approach to development as funding becomes available.
  3. The Ponsonby Park project aligns with ALL Council objectives, plans, and outcomes be it; Te Tāruke-ā-Tāwhiri – Auckland’s Climate Plan, Te Rautaki Ngahere ā-Tāone o Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland’s Urban Ngahere (Forest) Strategy, Te Tahua Pūtea Tau 2021-2031 – The 10-year Budget 2021-2031 and Mahere Huarahi o Ponsonby – The Ponsonby Road Plan. In addition, it is the Waitematā Local Board’s ‘One Local Initiative ‘ (OLI)project. On what grounds and for what reasons does Council deem it acceptable to delay the development of the project given half of the budget is currently available?
    As per the response to Q1, the Local Board is seeking a staged approach to redevelopment based on available funding.
  4. At the commencement of the Council OLI project, the Ponsonby Park development was one of the most progressed, through extensive community consultation, local engagement, and project advancement. This has only increased with the rezoning of the rear of the site to Open Space. Why has the Ponsonby Park project been delayed given the extensive work already completed?
    As per earlier responses, a staged approach to the project is being developed, with planning elements being progressed in Financial Year 2022/23.
  5. The Wynyard Quarter development and open spaces have enjoyed a wealth of funding, whereas established areas like Ponsonby, have been neglected. The need for the new civic space was first identified 21 years ago and yet access to the existing funding is being denied. Why has Ponsonby Park been deferred. Who made this decision and for what reasons?
    In response to the impacts of COVID, in July 2020 Auckland Council released an Emergency Budget which reduced expenditure, reprioritised, and deferred capital funding across a number of projects including Ponsonby Park.
    The decision to slow down some of our building and construction projects to avoid over- reliance on the use of debt was made by The Governing Body.
    The link below provides full details:
    https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/plans-projects-policies-reports-bylaws/our-plans- strategies/budget-plans/emergency-budget-2020-2021/Documents/emergency-budget-2020- 2021-volume-1.pdf
    Private Bag 92300, Auckland 1142 | aucklandcouncil.govt.nz | Ph 09 301 0101
  6. Covid has decimated Auckland’s community centres as businesses are unable to open and hospitality, in particular, is adversely affected. The development of Ponsonby Park would create a focus and meaningful community hub for the neighbourhood and be an attractor for our struggling businesses. Does Council take into account these social impacts when making the decision to delay the realisation of Ponsonby Park?
    All factors were considered as part of the budget process.
  7. Council is well aware of the lack of engagement in Local Government. Election turnout is pitifully low. Yet here we have a project that has had significant community engagement, over a sustained number of years, that has been well documented and progressed via a Community-Led Design project (at significant cost saving to Council through the volunteer work of the community members) yet after years of work, there is NO tangible progress for people to see. What is the Councils view on this? Does Council think that this is providing positive feedback for the engagement and effort people have put into the Ponsonby Park project?
    Council acknowledges and appreciates the contribution of all involved. However, COVID has significantly impacted Council finances resulting in project delays and a deferral of a request to secure the balance of project funds through the One Local Initiative (OLI) programme.
    A staged approach to the project is now planned and the hard work and community contribution will not be lost.
  8. Can Council give an assurance that Ponsonby Park is not being side-lined, undermined by inflationary pressures on the allocated budget and allowed to fail through neglect? We all understand that Covid has hit Council budgets hard, but the facts do not appear to align with the work done to date, the spend being made in nearby areas or the ‘climate emergency declaration’ made by Council and the reluctance to begin the project. We would like an assurance about Ponsonby Park from the Governing Body.
    Governing Body commitment to the development of 254 Ponsonby Rd stands in the form of the following August 2019 resolution (resolution number FIN/2019/88) made by the Finance and Performance Committee regarding the allocation of up to $5.5 million to the project:
    b) approve the allocation of the proceeds of sale from 200 Victoria Street West, Auckland Central to the following projects, subject to confirmation by the Auckland Council Legal Services team that the projects identified are consistent with the purpose of the endowment pursuant to which this property was vested and is in accordance with sections 140 and 141 of the Local Government Act 2002:
    i) up to $5.5 million to the development of a civic space at 254 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby.
    The link below provides full details.
    Private Bag 92300, Auckland 1142 | aucklandcouncil.govt.nz | Ph 09 301 0101

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