Are our open spaces at risk?

Valuable public open spaces were under threat from the last National Government, which sought to carve up and sell our parks for housing developments.

The last National Government tried to change the law and make it easier to sell reserves. It planned to introduce special new legislation to over ride the normal checks and balances, and environmental protections, that the Reserves Act and Resource Management Act offer in order to:

  1. Make it possible to build houses on reserves;
  2. Reduce public participation in important decision-making process which affect people’s lives;
  3. Bypass local decision-making about local issues by democratically elected representatives;
  4. Override local authority functions by changing zoning, plans and policies against the local authority’s wishes; and
  5. Prioritise development over quality of life.

This is happening right now to Point England Reserve – the National Government passed a law to revoke its reserve status, subdivide it, re-zone it and sell it for housing, all without following the normal legal processes.

This was a ‘development no matter what the cost’ mentality that will not lead to liveable, first rate international cities in New Zealand.

At a time when cities in Australia are working to increase green space alongside intensification, the National Government wanted to reduce urban green space. SOR sees this as little more than intergenerational theft.

What about my reserve?

You might think that your local park is owned by your local council and will remain as reserve forever. But many reserves are owned by the Government and could be sold out from under the local council for the purposes of development.

Minister Nick Smith’s argument for selling Point England for housing is that “we cannot have land within 12 kilometres of the CBD of Auckland grazing cows”. This entirely misses the point. The grazed land is also home to New Zealand dotterel and other rare and endangered bird species. The green space also provides significant benefits in terms of access to the outdoors in the context of a rapidly growing city.

Furthermore, the Minister’s plan involves selling not only land being grazed by cows, but also the community sports fields, which are heavily utilised both by the local community and sports clubs around Auckland.

So if you think your park is safe, it might not be. If your local reserve is owned by the Crown and is currently being grazed by cows, used for sports fields or otherwise appears to the Government to be “under utilised”, it might be the target of a plan to use it for housing purposes in the near future.

To find out if your park is owned by the Crown, contact your local council and ask them. While you are there, let them know that you oppose the sale of reserves for housing purposes. If we do not make our voices heard, our children may not know the benefits of wide open space.

If you find out your park is not safe, let us know. We plan to make sure that all of these parks are made safe for future generations.