Valuable public open spaces were under threat from the last Government, which sought to carve up our parks up and sell them.
The Government tried to change the law and make it easier to sell reserves within urban boundaries. 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:
- Make it possible to build houses on reserves;
- Reduce public participation in important decision-making process which affect people’s lives;
- Bypass local decision-making about local issues by democratically elected representatives;
- Override local authority functions by changing zoning, plans and policies against the local authority’s wishes; and
- Prioritise development over quality of life.
A present example is at Point England Reserve – in the face of community protest, a law was passed that revoked its reserve status. This leaves the risk that a future government agency will seek to re-zone it and sell it for housing, all without following the normal legal processes that allow local communities to have a say.
This ‘development no matter what the cost’ mentality 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 New Zealand Government wanted to reduce urban green space. SOR sees this as intergenerational theft.
What about my reserve?
You might think that if your local park is ‘owned by your local council’ and it 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.
Open green spaces within urban areas provide significant benefits in terms of access to the outdoors in the context of a rapidly growing city.
Point England was a loved urban farm park. It has also been the long standing home of rare and endangered birds, who co-existed alongside the cattle. To prepare the land for sale, the new law banned the grazing cattle. This changed the ecosystem of Point England, which is in the process of re-establishing itself.
The plan also involved selling a large part of the Point England community sports fields, which are heavily used both by the local community and sports clubs around Auckland.
If you think your park is safe, it might not be.
If your local open space is owned by the Crown and is being grazed by cows, used for sports or appears “under utilised” to the casual observer, it might become the target of a council or government plan to sell it for intensive housing.
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.
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 hope to make sure that all of these parks are made safe for future generations.