Last month, Auckland Council released its corporate property portfolio strategy, designed to deliver “increased efficiency and offer more flexible services for customers across the Auckland region”.
So what exactly does this mean for us? The Rodney Local Board is in need of a new home. Not only does the board currently sit in a location outside our ward, the building currently used in Orewa is set to be vacated under the proposed strategy. Council activities will be relocated to one of three key growth areas or “hubs”.
With the southern and central hubs pencilled in to be located in Manukau and the CBD, there is, of course, nowhere more suitable to establish a northern hub than within the Dairy Flat subdivision. With the anticipated level of growth and the 3500 home Milldale development already underway, the wider-Wainui area offers a future-proofed alternative to an already heavily strained Albany.
Given the board’s enormous geographic jurisdiction extends 86 kilometres from Te Arai Point in the northeast to almost Bethels Beach in the south west, our northern hub is going to need some localised support. That’s where the grassroots approach of “spokes” comes in. Utilising existing spaces already occupied by Council, such as libraries and service centres, spokes will enable the Rodney Local Board and our staff to work closer with our communities and ensure that locals have face-to-face access to council services.
With our area being so far-flung, far better for the board to have multiple spokes, sitting somewhere central to the northeast, somewhere central to the southwest and perhaps even a “cherry on top” in Wellsford. For us in the northeast it’s a given: The Warkworth Town Hall. It’s been recently restored and earthquake-proofed, largely at ratepayer expense, for $5.5 million, and, thus far, only lightly used.
The popularity of the Warkworth Town Hall Talks, co-hosted by Mahurangi Action, One Warkworth and Auckland Council, is already demonstrating that the community sees the venue as a desirable place to discuss the future of the area. After all, it was originally built to serve as the place for the Mahurangi community to meet and decide the district’s issues. So, with its new lease of life, why not put it to good use?
Regardless of where we ultimately put down roots one thing is certain, the proposed model is going to put the “local” back in the Rodney Local Board.
Tessa Berger, Rodney Local Board