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Inspirational development needed for Matiatia

28 September 2005

Inspirational development needed for Matiatia, agree residents

Calls for a development at Matiatia that was “inspirational, extraordinary and put Waiheke Island on the world map,” were greeted with applause at a public meeting at Waiheke on Monday (26 September).

Over 80 people debated ways the island property could be turned into an exceptional feature which reflected the spirit of the island community. The meeting follows the purchase by Auckland City Council for $12.5million in August.

Council officers explained the options available for the design process and the Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, told residents, “We’re starting on an exciting journey together.”

Acting city planning group manager Penny Pirrit said the options were for a design competition open to everyone including overseas designers that could run from February to April 2006 with a final concept in September or a two to three day workshop on the island, involving expert designers to work with the community in February 2006 before finalising a concept in June.

In both cases, a design brief emphasising sustainable building practices, integrated transport and traffic requirements, open spaces, and strong urban design qualities would first have to be developed in consultation with a small working party of councillors, community representatives and design and property experts by December 2005. The final brief would require council approval.

Penny Pirrit said the project would be implemented through the council’s Property Enterprise Board which would select a developer, oversee lease arrangements and set up any agreements required.

The meeting indicated a preference for the design workshop which enabled residents to have a more hands-on input on overall design.

Sections of the audience expressed strong concerns over funding arrangements for the purchase, in particular the user pays parking charges to be effective from 1 November, claiming that the Waiheke community was being unfairly burdened with the cost of the purchase which should be a city-wide responsibility.

The Mayor told the meeting, “For every $1 collected in rating revenues from Waiheke, the city gives $4 back.

“The council decided that user pays charges must be a condition of the purchase. Without it, I doubt whether we would have secured the deal. Now we have Matiatia forever. Let’s move on to stage two.”

Officers confirmed that the parking charges were covering only a small amount of the interest council was paying on the $12.5million loan for the purchase.

Waiheke Community Board chair Ray Ericson said, “Councillors pulled off a miracle. Deals like this normally take two years, not six months.”

Council officers confirmed that a development of 8,000m² – 10,000m² would occupy the site. Among the ideas from residents were:

- an “eco-village” built according to sustainable standards including recycled use of wastewater and stormwater and using environment friendly materials

- an international centre for sustainable studies

- a marineland complete with dolphins

- a vehicle free park and wharf serviced by dual-fuel hyrid shuttle buses.

The Mayor said he got the strong feeling that the island was favouring a development that reflected an “eco theme”.

He added, “I’ve come to recognise Waiheke residents as a feisty lot! What we need to do now is harness that energy and come up with an outstanding gateway project.”

Following the meeting officers will make recommendations on the design process to the 10 October meeting of the Urban Strategy and Governance Committee.


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