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Top class consultation wins City a planning award



4 April 2006

Top class consultation wins Auckland City a national planning award

An Auckland City project to rehabilitate a former landfill into a showcase for a sustainable environment has won the New Zealand Planning Institute's project award.

Councillor Neil Abel, chairperson of the council's Works and Services Committee, accepted the award for the Seaside Park - Brady Road Closed Landfill Rehabilitation Project on behalf of Auckland City and project managers Tonkin and Taylor at the New Zealand Planning Institute's award ceremony last night.

"We're honoured to receive this award," says Councillor Abel. "It's the icing on the cake for a highly successful project that has already received praise from the community and accolades from engineering professionals."

Councillor Abel says that the project clearly met all the criteria for the institute's project award, which required describing the process that identified the need for the project, the planning process to formulate the project, and the benefits resulting from the project.

"Through effective consultation and community input, the people of Otahuhu have witnessed the remarkable transformation of an eyesore into an ecological treasure," Councillor Abel says.

The four-year $2.5 million project includes a new wetland area, extensive walkways and a 5.5 hectare wildlife refuge. When planning for the project began, the former Brady Road landfill was a site for illegal dumping and the adjacent coast was being polluted.

The community consultation process involved a series of individual meetings, site visits, open days, and public meetings. All interested and affected parties were consulted and given an opportunity to provide input into the concepts for rehabilitation. Many of the ideas were incorporated into the planning, decision-making and implementation stages of the project.

Councillor Abel says that Auckland City is delighted with the appreciation that the community has shown for the consultation process used for the project.

"We received excellent feedback from the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society, who told us that the process Auckland City went through was 'consultation as it should be'."

Councillor Abel says that the enthusiasm is mutual: "I can't say enough about the invaluable input from the Tamaki Estuary Protection Society and other community participants. The society went out of its way to assist Auckland City with the project and was vital in making Seaside Park what it is today."

Councillor Abel says that the senior engineer on the project, Tonkin and Taylor's Arthur Amputch, deserves special recognition for his outstanding work.

"His experience and expertise was crucial in involving the community in decision-making and addressing all the environmental issues inherent in landfill rehabilitation."

Councillor Abel says that the consultation process highlighted the importance that the community placed on the local copper skink population, and that as a result Auckland City sought the advice of Doctor Graham Ussher, natural heritage scientist at Auckland Regional Council.

"Dr Ussher's specialist knowledge was instrumental in the creation of a special refuge for the skinks. As far as we know, this is the first time that a public park is actively catering for native lizards."

The project involved the extensive landscaping and planting of 26,000 native trees, protecting over one kilometre of coastline to provide a habitat for seabirds and aquatic animals, and the creation of two mounds to provide views of the wildlife area and the Tamaki estuary.

Last year the project won the prestigious Arthur Mead premier environmental award from the Auckland branch of the Institute of Professional Engineers.


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