Public reserves are being sold by Auckland Council without public consultation, triggering outrage among residents and elected representatives.
The Herald has picked up concerns about the sale of Nihill Reserve in Mission Bay to neighbouring residents and talks with a developer to remove 15 mature pohutukawa at Margan Reserve in New Lynn as part of a large project on the old Crown Lynn brickworks site.
Panuku Development Auckland - the development arm of Auckland Council - said another 13 pieces of reserve land are for sale or being processed for sale.
Robin Houlker, whose home overlooks Nihill Reserve, is horrified at the potential loss of nikau palms, puriri and pohutukawa as well as birdlife, as the reserve could be sold to a developer planning to build townhouses at one end of the reserve, she said.
"Even if they are not very big, small reserves are little buffers between groups of houses. As we intensify I think people are feeling more and more strongly that they want to keep the green buffers.
"The reserves belong to the ratepayers and we haven't given the council a mandate to start selling them. They were hard fought for and give us beauty," she said.
The council has written two letters to about 12 adjoining property owners of the reserve, offering to sell 872sq m of reserve land, saying it is no longer required. Prospective buyers have been told they would have to meet the valuation, legal and survey fees ranging from $3000 to $6000 or more.
Word in the neighbourhood is the council is seeking $500,000 to $600,000 for the long, narrow strip of land.
Mrs Houlker said about 100 residents opposed the sale of the reserve, the community had not been consulted and was shocked to discover the reserve had been "signed off" by council parks staff with support from the Orakei Local Board.
Deputy chairman Kit Parkinson said the local board did not like selling reserve land but the strip was a bit of a "lost piece of land" landlocked at one end. He said the board was under pressure from the council to sell land to pay for Colin Maiden Park, saying it had also agreed to sell a small reserve landlocked by five sections near John Rymer Place in Kohimarama.
In the case of Margan Reserve, the Whau Local Board found it very difficult to get information from council officers about the loss of 15 pohutukawa for two new links roads and a pedestrian walkway for a special housing area development, said chairwoman Catherine Farmer.
"It is disappointing. We are an elected board ready to offer a compromise and the doors have firmly been shut in our face."
Ms Farmer said the trees were part of the last green belt in New Lynn.
A spokesman for Panuku Development Auckland - under instructions from council to sell $40 million of surplus land and property in the 2015-2016 financial year - said most of the sites were small, narrow strips of land ranging from 30sq m to 1000sq m. They were classified as reserve or open space, the spokesman said, "but in reality are greatly under-utilised and fulfil limited functions while still having a cost attached to maintain [and] keep weed- and pest-free".
The spokesman said the process for selling reserve land was a council-wide consultation process, excluding the public, before a sale decision was taken. Public consultation occurs when reserve status is revoked.
A council spokeswoman said there were no plans at this stage to sell any or all of the land at Margan Reserve. The council was in discussion with the developer of the neighbouring site regarding the density and other aspects of the development, including traffic needs.
"The views of the local board will be sought at the appropriate time."
Parks for sale
• 15 parks potentially for sale, including Nihill Reserve in Mission Bay
• Other reserve property approved or set to be approved for sale include:
42 Bancroft Crescent, Glendene
12 Birdwood Rd, Papatoetoe
51 Stamford Park Rd, Mt Roskill (in two parts, set for a decision this month)
78 Hurstmere Rd, Takapuna
96 St Georges Rd, Avondale
78 Merton Rd, St Johns
• Eight other properties still being assessed
• Discussions with developer to remove 15 pohutukawa in Margan Reserve, New Lynn