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Latest escape shows prison in wrong location

Media release

Newmarket Business Association

Wednesday 13 May 2008

Business district says latest escape shows prison in wrong location

The very public escape of a prisoner out of Mt Eden Prison and onto Auckland's central streets shows that the Government should have used the recent opportunity to relocate the prison and have this prime inner city land redeveloped in accordance to the Auckland Regional Council's growth strategy, says its neighbouring business district.

"No one wants a prison in their neighbourhood, but it seems bizarre that in the centre of New Zealand’s showcase city members of the public can observe prisoners escaping. I understand the view that Auckland prisoners should be able to stay in the Auckland region, but does the prison really need to sit on such a prime piece of dirt and border two major secondary schools," said Cameron Brewer, general manager of the Newmarket Business Association.

Last week the Government announced a new tower block for the site at the cost of $216 million.

"Commercial interest would have been huge in the site and a great development would have transformed the whole area. The Corrections Department could have named their price then used the proceeds to relocate to a more appropriate and sustainable location in Greater Auckland."

Mr Brewer said just a couple of hundred metres from Mt Eden Prison the Lion Brewery site on Khyber Pass Road was last year sold to AMP Capital Investors for a whopping $162 million to be redeveloped as high-end commercial, residential and retail development.

"Central Auckland is so short of land and the private sector is under such pressure to intensify. The Auckland Regional Growth Strategy of 1999 is about quality intensification in key central areas that have good transport links. Given the Mt Eden Prison's prime location, it would be perfect for commercial intensification. It borders the western railway line, a brand rail station near Boston Road is about to be built, and of course it's got great access to SH1.

"Instead of people arriving into the country’s commercial capital and seeing a new prison towering above the southern motorway, they should be welcomed by state of the art offices. To think that this prime site that borders Newmarket and Eden Terrace is going to keep growing as a prison for many more years is such a lost opportunity for the ongoing development and intensification of central Auckland," said Mr Brewer.


ENDS

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