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Aotea Block Fiasco: Council Is Rid Of Land But...

*Aotea Block Fiasco - Council Is Rid Of The Land But Costs Are Ahead For Ratepayers*

Ratepayers have much to complain about in the "Aotea fiasco" said Councillor Robert Shaw.

"Both the decision-making method and the outcome were unsatisfactory."

Cr Shaw was responding to Dr Blakely's announcing the receipt of the major payment of $3.2 million from the Tauranga developer Carrus Corporation.

Ratepayers paid $4.866 million, for a return to date of $4.579 million.

The cost of holding the land was $30,000 per month and this is why the Council had to quit the project.

Dr Blakely says Council expects to "come out in the black on this development" and refers to a possible payment sometime in the future for the last 89 hectares.

He fails to mention the $2 million Council agreed to pay to provide access to East Porirua via Champion Street.

He also does not mention three further major costs that await ratepayers' attention.

First, they must develop, and maintain, the rubbishy land which the developer did not want - this has never been costed.

Second, the $12.5 million cost of the link bridge to the town centre which must go over SH1 and the railway line. This project was rejected by council in the Long Term Plan exercise but remains an integral part of the development of the Aotea block for commercial use.

Third, the upgrade of Whitford Brown that is forced because of traffic congestion that already impacts on Whitby, Papakowhai, and East Porirua. The addition of 1,200 houses will have a horrendous effect on already congested roads.

The chief executive's admission that "Council decided it was not its role to be a large scale property developer" comes four years to late. It is ironic that he says the funds recovered from the Aotea block should be used for land purchases for strategic economic development - this was the purpose of the Aotea purchase, but all we have is another suburb like Papakowhai and a mountain of burden for ratepayers.

Dr Blakeley is right if he means that council should not develop suburban subdivisions. But, the Aotea land could have been used to create a green heart to our city and to advance commercial development. That was actually the reason council purchased the land in the first place.

In the 10-year Financial Plan council ignored road works that are needed in the city and that is irresponsible, Cr Shaw added.

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