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Planning moves forward at speed

GEORGE WOOD is a North Shore ward councillor on the new Auckland Council.
The former three-term mayor of North Shore City lives in Forrest Hill with wife Myra.

Planning for the future of the Auckland region is continuing to move forward at speed. The Auckland Council transport committee received an important report on the future options for passenger transport to and around the North Shore at its May meeting. This report had 14 different options from the usual “do nothing” through to a heavy rail loop encompassing the whole of the lower part of the North Shore covering the next 30 year period. Taking both heavy and light rail to Albany and then a new bus-way to Silverdale got a lot of mention. The report authors also looked closely as to how the current bus public transport could be improved in the interim.

The lower part of the Auckland City Centre came in for special mention especially in the aspect of freeing up the clogged streets to get buses through far quicker. My pet “hobby horse” is the bus stop at Victoria Park for North Shore buses travelling out of town. It is “third world” in how it operates each weekday afternoon.  Hundreds of North Shore buses go through this stop and whilst it is great to see how many people use the services it is clear we must do better in providing facilities. Being a bus passenger myself I see first-hand the hardships that our residents have to face. Hopefully some respite will be available soon.
Within a few weeks the Auckland Tepid Baths in the Auckland City Centre will be open for business after a major rebuild. North Shore people will know of the tepid baths very well; many locals from this side of the harbour were taught to swim at the Hay School of Swimming.  First opened in 1914 this facility was supplied with heated seawater from the nearby Auckland Tramways Electric Power Station (now the Foster Marine Chandler Store on Fanshawe Street). In 2007 the former Auckland City Council decided that the Tepid Baths would have to be the subject of major expense to preserve the building.
In order to restore the building to its former glory and more the Auckland Council has spent over $17 million on the upgrade. The final result is amazing and something that all Aucklanders should be very proud. It has maintained the general appearance of the Tepid Baths but modernised the water heating and treatment system and included a new gymnasium in the complex.  The main pool will maintain a temperature of 27⁰. North Shore residents should treat these baths as their own.
I believe that Auckland Council has made excellent improvements in the handling of resource consents under the Resource Management Act. This Act clearly indicates that ‘sustainable management’ means managing the use, development and protection of natural and physical resources in a way or at a rate which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic and cultural wellbeing and for their health and safety’. Auckland Council therefore has a huge responsibility to juggle the rights of individual property owners against the wider rights of
the community.
Later this year we have a major project planned to implement the development of a new Unitary Plan to take over from the current seven legacy District Plans and the former plan administered by the regional council. Once this work has been completed it will make it far simpler for people to know precisely what rights they have to undertake development and, hopefully, a better understanding of all the community as to what can or cannot be done. Getting a good understanding of what developers may do on their land vis-à-vis the rights of the community is very important.
Lastly: On a personal note I was surprised to get a satisfactory report on my first 18 months from the NZ Herald. Mr Bernard Orsman, who calls himself the SuperCity reporter, has relentlessly covered the council meetings since the new council started.  Bernard called me “something of a revelation” so I don’t know what he was expecting despite the fact that I knew him whilst mayor of North Shore City for nine years.  He went on to say that I was “energetic, stroppy at times and a prolific user of social media.”  Bernard then made a comment that I found heartening where he claims I am “pandering” to the people of the North Shore who do not wish to pay for rail across the isthmus.  I feel that I am really doing my job in ensuring that all Aucklanders get good value for money from
this project.

by George Wood