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Parkland a clear priority for North Shore City

Parkland a clear priority for North Shore City

In 2002 alone the North Shore City Council spent more than $28.3 million buying land for parks, and a further $15 million maintaining and upgrading the 500 reserves it already has.

North Shore City ' s community services and parks committee chairperson, Margaret Miles, says this significant sum proves the council ' s commitment to protecting the city ' s green and leafy character by improving and extending the parks network.

Councillor Miles says there is now approximately 2100 hectares of green open space within North Shore City, a residential location favoured because of its green look.

" Over a number of years this council has been carefully negotiating to acquire land for parks throughout the city, some to extend existing beloved reserves and to create new ones in areas where there is strong housing demand and need for recreational space.

" We ' re currently negotiating to buy several other properties but, for commercial reasons, we cannot reveal where they are or how much of our public ' s money we are prepared to pay to those landowners looking to maximise their investments, " she says.

The council ' s most recent and high profile acquisition was settled just before Christmas when, after a lengthy arbitration process, it paid $22.5 million to the major landowner at Long Bay for 38.5 hectares alongside the Auckland Regional Council ' s (ARC) Long Bay Regional Park.

This prime real estate had been marketed by the developer to " well-heeled beach bums " ) but its future as parkland safeguards the area ' s marine reserve, Margaret Miles says.

" With spectacular views of the Hauraki Gulf, our addition to the area ' s open space includes land by the Okura River and at Pohutukawa Bay, and helps meet our city ' s long-term recreational needs, " she says. Besides the Long Bay acquisition, here are just some of the other properties North Shore City Council has bought over the past three years:

· A 40-hectare Paremoremo farm, saved from coastal development at a cost of $3.1 million. Situated at the end of Sanders Road, it stretches around the coast with a long frontage to the Waitemata Harbour and offers significant potential for both active and passive recreation.

· A 9.4-hectare site in Island Bay Road, Birkenhead - known as the Tarralgon Block - was bought for a shade under $2 million to protect the area ' s green, leafy character.

· Two sections in Albany ' s Gills Road, totalling 1.5 hectares and costing $765,000, are now part of the city ' s growing ' northern green network ' of parks.

· A 2.2-hectare property in Park Hill Road, Birkenhead cost $745,000, an environmental investment already paying off for the community.

· Kennedy Park in Castor Bay with its panoramic harbour views was extended by 1038 square metres (0.1038 hectares) when the council paid $400,000 for a Beach Road property.

· Four hectares of native bush at O ' Brien Road, Albany, for $375,000.

· An additional 3.5 hectares in Saddleback Rise costing $370,000 to extend the popular Speedy Reserve in Murray ' s Bay.

· The Le Roys Bush Reserve in Birkenhead was extended by a further 3500 square metres (0.35 hectares) at a cost of $140,000.

Margaret Miles says North Shore City has also protected its ratepayers ' interests by fighting to retain other reserve land in the city, and contributing both funds and expert advice to ensure its ongoing care.

" Three years ago this council, working closely with our local community, won a landmark court battle to have the 11-hectare headland - located between Cheltenham and Narrow Neck Beaches - protected as reserve, after the previous government had announced its intention to sell the land for residential development.

" Formerly known as HMNZS Tamaki, this cliff top site with panoramic views of the gulf is administered by the Department of Conservation (DoC) - with our help. We maintain three hectares of grassland at the Crown-owned reserve, allowing DoC to focus its attention on conserving valuable heritage structures on the site.

" Councillor Miles says there is a common misunderstanding about land at Long Bay.

" While the people of Auckland own the 110-hectare Long Bay Regional Park as part of ARC ' s regional parks network, the rest of the land has been held in private ownership for many years and is not, as some believe, public parkland.

" The ARC is currently involved in an arbitration process to buy three additional pieces of land, totaling 5.8 hectares, to add to its park which attracts 1.5 million visitors a year. North Shore City ' s and the ARC ' s acquisitions would altogether add 44.3 hectares to form a park with a total area of 154.3 hectares, " she says.

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