Local boards fearful the Government will subdivide more public reserves
A decision to put affordable and social housing on Crown land has left other local boards worried it is creating a precedent.
In December 2016, Housing Minister Nick Smith announced plans for 300 homes to be built on 12 hectares of Point England Reserve to help address the city's housing crisis.
It was the ninth site identified as part of the Government's Crown land development programme addressing the significant housing need across the city, and is the largest tract of public open space on the Tamaki River foreshore.
Smith also introduced the Point England Development Enabling Bill to Parliament and submissions on the bill closed on January 31.
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The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board contributed to a submission on the bill and chairwoman Julia Parfitt said the decision could set a precedent for the Crown land in the local board area.
"The local board is concerned, especially considering the number of public assets on that land, from the tennis club at Centennial Park to the arts centre in Orewa," Parfitt said.
"It's laudable to have land for housing but, if you have housing, you also need reserve land. It's so important."
Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Grant Gillon said his board also submitted on the bill and the board is concerned about the use of legislation to overcome reserve status.
"It's been put aside as reserve, it should be maintained as a reserve. With greater intensification people need somewhere to go," Gillon said.
Gillon said crown reserve land could include anything from parks to land set aside for education, conservation or another particular purpose and a precedent at Point England could mean any of those is "up for grabs".
"The local board has opposed that sale on the basis we don't have enough land to serve that growth that we have and to tell it off is short-sighted," Gillon said.
"If Parliament changes legislation to allow housing on reserve land, it actually puts all of our reserves at risk. We have a shortage of playing fields and reserves for our growing population."
Upper Harbour Local Board chairwoman Lisa Whyte said, in her opinion, reserve land is too important to consider selling in principle, a case-by-case analysis would be needed.
"The social and environmental and ecological values are quite hard to quantify against the need for other purposes like housing," Whyte said.
The Point England Development Enabling Bill would revoke the reserve status of 12 hectares of Point England Reserve, set it apart for state housing, and rezone it as residential-mixed housing urban.
If the bill is adopted, construction is expected to begin in 2017 or 2018.