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Land Banking Pays Off For Manukau

Media release

22 July 2005

Land Banking Pays Off For Manukau

Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis says the city has had fantastic returns from the City Council's policy of strategic buying of land in previous decades. The practice of purchasing large amounts of open land for future development is known as "land banking".

Sir Barry says, "In many cases we got the properties for a song, compared to what we would have to pay today. They were a great investment because land prices have rocketed in the meantime. Ratepayers have benefited greatly."

The purchases were made with a long-term strategic goal. The aim was to create a city from scratch, with a sophisticated infrastructure to serve both fast-growing business zones and new housing areas.

The Council put in essential elements such as roading, water supplies and drainage, and surplus land was then sold for the next stage of development. "We put in the skeleton and the private sector added the flesh and bones," Sir Barry says.

Recently the Council similarly bought large parcels in Flat Bush, which will be the new high-growth centre of the region over the next decade. Since then the land has quadrupled in value.

"I don't know why claims are being made that the Council should not be getting involved in developing Flat Bush when we have been doing such things successfully for decades. It's not a new concept."

The Council always retained land which was needed for community and civic facilities. However the Council's holdings in Flat Bush will not be sold as one block because the Council believes there will be a higher quality development if it retains ownership, and therefore control of the design, phasing and management of development.

"I realised early on that we had to buy large areas of land in order to promote growth in the city. Without Council's investment, thriving business areas such as Wiri and East Tamaki would not be what they are today. It's worth remembering that most of Manukau City Centre was built on land purchased by the Council in the 1960s."

The same applied to future housing areas. "It was clear decades ago that Auckland City and the North Shore had little land available for large-scale future housing development, but the east of the region, which is now Manukau City, did. That was clearly where the population and business growth would be, and that's exactly what happened.

"Putting in quality infrastructure was the point of difference of Manukau. The business community invested here because they had confidence that the necessary roading and other essential services would be there. Now, Manukau is the business powerhouse of the region.

"I am equally proud of the parks and open spaces we now have due to prudent purchases of land in the past, such as Totara Park in 1967, and Puhinui Reserve."

Sir Barry says the city now has magnificent examples of open space which will be a heritage that lasts forever. Manukau has the equivalent of 7,000 rugby pitches in parkland and reserves.

"In contrast, Auckland City is scrambling to find enough open space for parks. In particular I am looking forward to the new Barry Curtis Park which is being developed in Flat Bush. There'll be no shortage of places to go for a bike ride or walk for residents of Flat Bush Town Centre."


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