It is wonderful that over 22,500 people took the time to provide feedback on the draft Unitary Plan. Thank you to our community groups and individuals who took the time to think and tell us how they envisaged the growth and future of their communities, both for themselves and their children.
After all it has been 20 years since the people of Waitemata last had a chance to have a say when they submitted in the middle of the 1990s to the notified Isthmus District plan of the old Auckland City Council. That’s a generation ago. Our views have changed and the way the world works has changed. Villas and bungalows were seen as ‘old fashioned’ rather than character and heritage. The trains were not well patronised, buses smoky and infrequent, cycles nowhere to be seen on our roads and the car was king. New shopping malls and shiny plastic packaging were ‘progress’ and dowdy town centres where bought goods were put into paper bags, were run down. Yes the world has indeed changed.
As an elected member working on the community response to the draft Unitary Plan my Local Board colleagues and I have read as many of the submissions from those in Waitemata as possible, and all feedback has been collated and provided to your elected members to consider. We will listen to your community voice. As your local board we will advocate to your councillors, who make the final decisions, for changes to the plan that are necessary to help deliver a compact city that facilitates better transport options and housing choice for our inner city communities. We need a workable plan that respects residential and town centre character and heritage, allows for business and residential growth in our desirable area, has policies that provides for quality design standards, and encourages environmental sustainability. You local board recognises that greater public input into the decision-making where the new rules are proposed to be exceeded is a vital part of the trade-off.
One of the highlights of the month was the Waitemata 2013 Good Citizens Awards. Parents, children and friends beamed with pride as their loved ones received acknowledgement for the work they had done, often over decades, for their communities. The recipients of the Awards are the glue that helps hold our communities together with their determination, grit, advocacy, positivism and activism. Part of their good work is holding elected representatives and Council officials to account for decisions they make. They are an integral part of our grassroots democracy.
Cox’s Bay Reserve has a brand new Local Board funded boardwalk, which the local community came out to help us celebrate the opening of last month. A key priority of the Waitemata Local Board has been to develop a Waitemata Greenways Plan creating new and improved connecting walkways and cycleways in our area. The wider new boardwalk connects Richmond Road to Westend Road on a safer shared path through our reserve. So many volunteers over decades have been working to make this into an ecologically regenerating place whilst at the same time knowing the complex issues Cox’s Creek faces within our underground waste disposal and stormwater system. We are actively working with the CCO Watercare to find solutions over the short and long term. One step at a time moves us forward.
The new Local Board sponsored artificial playing turfs on Seddon Fields were opened 5 July. Within a very tight timeframe we also acted quickly as a Local Board to increase parking capacity at Seddon Fields so that parents can deliver their excited children to their soccer games. There is a new Local Board funded larger car park and bike racks for this very well used public facility. The Western Springs Association Football Club as a whole has done a momentous job in driving this project for their neighbourhood and sporting code, and it has been our Board and Council’s pleasure to partner with them to deliver the best outcome for all.
It’s midwinter and a time to acknowledge the changing of the seasons. Matariki is in full swing and with it there is a celebration of traditional arts and crafts with a modern twist. Matariki makes us focus through the eyes of those indigenous translators of tradition who implore us to keep the balance between earth’s inhabitants and our surroundings. Conservation and respect for the environment are strong themes. Community events have sprung up everywhere and there is a full programme that can be found on the Auckland Council website. Happy Matariki!
Published in the July edition of Ponsonby News