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Major Auckland Projects Face Budget Constraints Due To Covid-19

Auckland Council development agency Panuku is reviewing a number of major projects due to a projected half-billion revenue loss because of coronavirus.

But the council-controlled organisation (CCO) will not say which projects might be affected.

Panuku currently has urban regeneration projects planned, or underway, in a number of Auckland suburbs, including Manukau, Old Papatoetoe, Onehunga, Panmure and Pukekohe.

It is one of the super city’s most powerful public entities and manages around $3 billion of land and buildings owned by the council.

Acting chief executive David Rankin said Panuku was working to understand the full impacts of Covid-19.

"At this stage it’s too early to predict, but we do expect that our planned projects and budgets will need to reduce overall, in line with the wider council budget," he said.

"As the council consults and then confirms its budget for the next financial year, we will have a better view of how and where we will need to revise timelines and activities."

The council will vote on Thursday to put a new, revised budget for 2020/2021 out to public consultation.

In a statement on Friday, Mayor Phil Goff said the council was predicting a shortfall of $550 million in revenue over the next financial year as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

"The reality is, we have less money coming in, so we have less money that we can spend on the city and less money to deliver the essential services that Aucklanders rely on."

The financial blow comes after a report, released in October 2019, said Panuku's plans for the Manukau area were at risk.

The report, by the head of Panuku’s portfolio management office, Martha Tong, said the Manukau Framework Plan, which sets out how Panuku plans to transform the Manukau area over the next 20 to 25 years, was endangered by uncertainty over progress with the Crown and Auckland Council’s "corporate office rationalisation".

The business case, which was signed off by Panuku in September, was expected to see capital expenditure of $89 million over the next nine years.

It said it would involve redeveloping underutilised property assets for housing and commercial development in Manukau, which would in turn attract visitors, business and investors.

"A softening property market is resulting in some development sites, where Panuku is seeking a development agreement of some kind, being delayed or failing to become unconditional.

"This is resulting in re-working of projects, with associated revision of timelines."

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