Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Queens Wharf: ARC and Government JV Meeting on Thursday

A little bit of pre-amble first, to get to the point of this blog....

Auckland Regional Council met yesterday to consider its Draft Annual Plan for the first 4 months of the 2010-2011 year. It's only 4 months, because that's all the time left to ARC (from end of June) to abolition at the end of October 2010.

The public meeting of ARC's full Council considered the ARC's activities, and provided budget and activity reviews for each ARC department. In particular, the activities listed for the ARC's Transport and urban Development Department to 31 october 2010 included the item:

In terms of Queens Wharf, work will progress on the agreed option for the redevelopment of wharf for the Rugby World Cup.

One councillor (not me) queried this item. In fact I was curious as to what "the agreed option" was, and who had agreed it.

The CEO (Peter Winder) gave a one sentence response, and then stated to the effect: "... there will be a meeting of the Unincorporated Joint Venture this Thursday, between Government and ARC, given the alignment between the parties..."

This was an interesting revelation. I was not aware such a JV was in existence.

The ARC has not considered the matter of Queens Wharf, or re-considered its position, since it last considered it at a confidential meeting that was held on the 22nd December 2009, which was attended by just 7 councillors. That meeting was the subject of my last December blog: http://joelcayford.blogspot.com/2009/12/queens-wharf-another-ad-hoc-auckland.html. At that meeting the ARC learned of proposals for a $100 million Cruise Ship terminal, which it voted to support (though I voted against).

In the last few months this project has been opposed by all Auckland's Councils and their Mayors. There have been statements from the Prime Minister and also the Hon Murray McCully (Minister of for Rugby World Cup and supporter of Cruise Ship Terminal).

The ARC's position has not been revisited in the light of these events.

Later in yesterday's ARC Council meeting I asked two further questions about Queens Wharf: "What is the agenda for the Thursday meeting? and "When will the item be reported back?"

The CEO responded. He stated that the Queens Wharf JV meeting would be conducted: "within the framework agreed at the December 22nd meeting" and that "the numbers will be within that...". He also noted that the item would be reported back after that meeting, and that it would be either to a meeting of full Council or of the Transport & Urban Development Committee.

The mention of "the numbers" rang alarm-bells with me. There has been considerable discussion behind the scenes following the Mayoral Forum meeting which decided against the proposed $100 million Cruise Ship Terminal. The option still exists - in theory at least - of Government and ARC proceeding independently to develop the Cruise Ship Terminal - despite the opposition of all of Auckland's Councils.

This option exists because the ARC and Government co-own Queens Wharf. In addition ARC would be the consent authority because Queens Wharf is a structure over water. Queens Wharf is not on land, so is not subject to the planning jurisdiction of Auckland City Council.

A problem would be the funding. Who would pay for the Cruise Ship Terminal? Government has indicated it was prepared to invest in the Cruise Ship Terminal - but I understand this would be in the form of a loan. This loan would become a charge on the incoming Auckland Council. So ratepayers would still be expected to pay for the Terminal. It would not be a gift.

There are other options. Chairman Mike Lee has made no secret of his desire to demolish the sheds that are on Queens Wharf. I am advised that the Hon Murray McCully shares this scorched wharf enthusiasm. Neither see any value in retaining these character buildings.

I - and many other don't agree with immediate demolition. I think Auckland should have the opportunity of using these buildings - as part of Party Central -and as part of reclaiming and rediscovering how we might use this new public waterfront asset and its amenity.

At the Confidential December 22nd meeting of Council, ARC made a number of key decisions, none of which I am freely able to disclose. However, I choose here to disclose some details, because of the public interest matters this issue raises, and because I don't believe due process is being followed.

In particular, at the Confidential December 22nd meeting of Council, ARC decided that:
In the absence of an agreement by Auckland City Council to progress and finance the development, the Chief Executive investigate an exclusive partnership between the Auckland Regional Council and Government and report back to Council in January 2010.
This motion refers to the development of Queens Wharf including the $100 million Cruise Ship Terminal. Auckland City Council has clearly not supported that project. Now it appears the ARC and Government have set up an Unincorporated Joint Venture. However there was no report to Council in January - as decided in the resolution. Nor one in February. Now we hear informally about a meeting of this JV happening this week. Without the ARC receiving a formal report as agreed. Not good process.

Secondly, at that meeting, the ARC also "endorsed the CEO to negotiate a contribution by the ARC ..... towards the 2009-10 cost of redeveloping Queens Wharf..." I cannot reveal the precise details of the amount voted on (somewhere between $5 million and $10 million), but it seems entirely appropriate to reveal some of the works and their costs that the ARC considered would be part of the Queens Wharf Redevelopment.

ARC estimates in the report circulated for the meeting provide a figure of $1.1 million for: "Site Preparation", including: "demolish sheds, remove redundant services"....

So. Without any reports or further consideration it was assumed that the sheds would be demolished. ARC hasn't actually voted on that issue. But you can see how intriguing this is. The ARC would be the regulatory body considering any application its JV might make to demolish the sheds to make way for anything else - be it Party Central or a Cruise Ship Terminal.

So where are we now?

So far, Auckland's Councils don't support a Cruise Ship Terminal. But Government and ARC - according to its December 22nd decision - both do.

And we have learned there's a meeting of The ARC and Government Queens Wharf JV on Thursday, where ARC's position will not have been clarified and established in advance by the meeting it resolved to have.

Not good process.

1 comment:

David MacGregor said...

I am confused. If the ARC is going to cease to exist later this year, why is it forming JVs with the government - or any other party - to plan for the future of Auckland's waterfront.

Also, if the Auckland City Council has no authority for the wharf because it isn't 'land', who will assume the responsibility after the ARC has been dissolved?

If the matters discussed in your post are an indication of the current state of 'transparency'in Auckland's governance (where even elected officials are not privvy to important matters of interest to their constituents), what high-handed decision making will occur when the activies of local governance are only reveal post hoc on a quarterly basis when it is too late to object?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Queens Wharf: ARC and Government JV Meeting on Thursday

A little bit of pre-amble first, to get to the point of this blog....

Auckland Regional Council met yesterday to consider its Draft Annual Plan for the first 4 months of the 2010-2011 year. It's only 4 months, because that's all the time left to ARC (from end of June) to abolition at the end of October 2010.

The public meeting of ARC's full Council considered the ARC's activities, and provided budget and activity reviews for each ARC department. In particular, the activities listed for the ARC's Transport and urban Development Department to 31 october 2010 included the item:

In terms of Queens Wharf, work will progress on the agreed option for the redevelopment of wharf for the Rugby World Cup.

One councillor (not me) queried this item. In fact I was curious as to what "the agreed option" was, and who had agreed it.

The CEO (Peter Winder) gave a one sentence response, and then stated to the effect: "... there will be a meeting of the Unincorporated Joint Venture this Thursday, between Government and ARC, given the alignment between the parties..."

This was an interesting revelation. I was not aware such a JV was in existence.

The ARC has not considered the matter of Queens Wharf, or re-considered its position, since it last considered it at a confidential meeting that was held on the 22nd December 2009, which was attended by just 7 councillors. That meeting was the subject of my last December blog: http://joelcayford.blogspot.com/2009/12/queens-wharf-another-ad-hoc-auckland.html. At that meeting the ARC learned of proposals for a $100 million Cruise Ship terminal, which it voted to support (though I voted against).

In the last few months this project has been opposed by all Auckland's Councils and their Mayors. There have been statements from the Prime Minister and also the Hon Murray McCully (Minister of for Rugby World Cup and supporter of Cruise Ship Terminal).

The ARC's position has not been revisited in the light of these events.

Later in yesterday's ARC Council meeting I asked two further questions about Queens Wharf: "What is the agenda for the Thursday meeting? and "When will the item be reported back?"

The CEO responded. He stated that the Queens Wharf JV meeting would be conducted: "within the framework agreed at the December 22nd meeting" and that "the numbers will be within that...". He also noted that the item would be reported back after that meeting, and that it would be either to a meeting of full Council or of the Transport & Urban Development Committee.

The mention of "the numbers" rang alarm-bells with me. There has been considerable discussion behind the scenes following the Mayoral Forum meeting which decided against the proposed $100 million Cruise Ship Terminal. The option still exists - in theory at least - of Government and ARC proceeding independently to develop the Cruise Ship Terminal - despite the opposition of all of Auckland's Councils.

This option exists because the ARC and Government co-own Queens Wharf. In addition ARC would be the consent authority because Queens Wharf is a structure over water. Queens Wharf is not on land, so is not subject to the planning jurisdiction of Auckland City Council.

A problem would be the funding. Who would pay for the Cruise Ship Terminal? Government has indicated it was prepared to invest in the Cruise Ship Terminal - but I understand this would be in the form of a loan. This loan would become a charge on the incoming Auckland Council. So ratepayers would still be expected to pay for the Terminal. It would not be a gift.

There are other options. Chairman Mike Lee has made no secret of his desire to demolish the sheds that are on Queens Wharf. I am advised that the Hon Murray McCully shares this scorched wharf enthusiasm. Neither see any value in retaining these character buildings.

I - and many other don't agree with immediate demolition. I think Auckland should have the opportunity of using these buildings - as part of Party Central -and as part of reclaiming and rediscovering how we might use this new public waterfront asset and its amenity.

At the Confidential December 22nd meeting of Council, ARC made a number of key decisions, none of which I am freely able to disclose. However, I choose here to disclose some details, because of the public interest matters this issue raises, and because I don't believe due process is being followed.

In particular, at the Confidential December 22nd meeting of Council, ARC decided that:
In the absence of an agreement by Auckland City Council to progress and finance the development, the Chief Executive investigate an exclusive partnership between the Auckland Regional Council and Government and report back to Council in January 2010.
This motion refers to the development of Queens Wharf including the $100 million Cruise Ship Terminal. Auckland City Council has clearly not supported that project. Now it appears the ARC and Government have set up an Unincorporated Joint Venture. However there was no report to Council in January - as decided in the resolution. Nor one in February. Now we hear informally about a meeting of this JV happening this week. Without the ARC receiving a formal report as agreed. Not good process.

Secondly, at that meeting, the ARC also "endorsed the CEO to negotiate a contribution by the ARC ..... towards the 2009-10 cost of redeveloping Queens Wharf..." I cannot reveal the precise details of the amount voted on (somewhere between $5 million and $10 million), but it seems entirely appropriate to reveal some of the works and their costs that the ARC considered would be part of the Queens Wharf Redevelopment.

ARC estimates in the report circulated for the meeting provide a figure of $1.1 million for: "Site Preparation", including: "demolish sheds, remove redundant services"....

So. Without any reports or further consideration it was assumed that the sheds would be demolished. ARC hasn't actually voted on that issue. But you can see how intriguing this is. The ARC would be the regulatory body considering any application its JV might make to demolish the sheds to make way for anything else - be it Party Central or a Cruise Ship Terminal.

So where are we now?

So far, Auckland's Councils don't support a Cruise Ship Terminal. But Government and ARC - according to its December 22nd decision - both do.

And we have learned there's a meeting of The ARC and Government Queens Wharf JV on Thursday, where ARC's position will not have been clarified and established in advance by the meeting it resolved to have.

Not good process.

1 comment:

David MacGregor said...

I am confused. If the ARC is going to cease to exist later this year, why is it forming JVs with the government - or any other party - to plan for the future of Auckland's waterfront.

Also, if the Auckland City Council has no authority for the wharf because it isn't 'land', who will assume the responsibility after the ARC has been dissolved?

If the matters discussed in your post are an indication of the current state of 'transparency'in Auckland's governance (where even elected officials are not privvy to important matters of interest to their constituents), what high-handed decision making will occur when the activies of local governance are only reveal post hoc on a quarterly basis when it is too late to object?