Major projects at risk, council warns
A further round of local government reform could undermine the foundations of the new Auckland Council and make it difficult for councils around the country to engage with the private sector on ambitious development projects, Auckland Council argues in a submission to Parliament.
Changes that could redefine the role of local government could, for instance, preclude developments such as that at Auckland's Wynyard Quarter, which came into its own during the Rugby World Cup and more of which are planned under the council's newly minted Auckland Plan.
The council has told the Local Government and Environment Committee that proposed changes to the Local Government Act could stymie the Government's own super-city amalgamation which is only now being bedded down.
At the centre of the controversy is a change in the law to the purposes of local government which may not support "master planning" in key areas such as the waterfront.
"The success of the waterfront's Wynyard Quarter, for example, would not have been possible without a council-led and comprehensive approach to planning for its future," the submissions said.
"The changes . . . will not only lead to doubt as to whether Auckland Council can continue holistically planning in this fashion, but they may also reduce its ability to enter into the kinds of innovative partnerships with the private sector that are key to the implementation of those plans."
The council is currently engaged in similar private sector partnerships, such as that with Infratil to redevelop the New Lynn transport hub. Others, including more around Auckland's waterfront, are planned.
Economic development could also suffer, the council warned, especially in the area of promoting major events and tourism.
"Auckland Council is working closely with the Government and others to develop the city's innovation capability, for example."
Local government minister David Carter said the proposed reforms "are not about telling local authorities what they can and can't do, but rather about applying more robust cost-benefit analysis before decisions are made on certain activities."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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