Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Auckland Transport move won't happen 'if it is not financially beneficial'

Rumours are circulating Auckland Transport may move into the Vodafone building. Photo / Colleen Tunnicliff
Rumours are circulating Auckland Transport may move into the Vodafone building. Photo / Colleen Tunnicliff

Auckland Transport says it will not move most of its staff into the central city unless it saves money.

The council body is in commercial negotiations to lease an A-grade building on Viaduct Harbour Ave - believed to be the current Vodafone building - to consolidate and reduce its overall office space needs for 1500 staff.

The possible move to the Vodafone building, marketed as "exceptional space for corporate occupiers", has raised concerns among some politicians.

Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson, who is standing for council at October's local body elections, has said any spare cash should go to local transport priorities and unfunded transport projects.

Infrastructure committee chairman Mike Lee said the council accommodation policy was not financially responsible, citing the 18-storey, council-owned Civic Building standing empty for 17 months while several council-controlled organisations(CCOs) and the Maori Statutory Board rented buildings on the waterfront.

Auckland Transport said it was currently in negotiations and until these were completed it could not quantify savings.

"Quite simple, if it is not financially beneficial it will not happen," Auckland Transport said in a statement.

About half of Auckland Transport staff are located at Henderson and the remainder across multiple buildings in the central city, Takapuna and Manukau.

It has looked at 26 properties and said the building under consideration was the cheapest shortlisted option.

Another CCO, Development Auckland, is investigating the longer-term options for the Henderson site, the headquarters of the former Waitakere City Council. Options for the site include housing, commercial and retail space.

Auckland Transport says most of its business was with the likes of Auckland Council, New Zealand Transport Agency and suppliers predominantly in the central city.

Reports had highlighted the inefficiencies of being across multiple sites and productivity gains if most staff were located near the CBD in one building.

Waitakere councillors Penny Hulse and Linda Cooper are relaxed about the possibility of Auckland Transport leaving Henderson, which is earmarked for major development under the Unitary Plan.

Ms Cooper said Auckland Transport's accommodation plans had been known for some time.

"Auckland Transport hasn't provided for any new jobs locally and most of the staff coming from places like Howick and North Shore call its 'Horrenderson' and can't get out of there fast enough".

She said Auckland Transport leaving would create some exciting opportunities for the site.

"What Henderson cries out for as a metro centre is more people living at its centre...the council as a large land owner can be instrumental in attracting development partners to building those much needed homes for young families and older couples wanting to downsize," she said.

Ms Hulse said it would be pretty disappointing if Auckland Transport moved out of Henderson, saying the council would need to get on and move Henderson up the list of town centres to be upgrade.

- NZ Herald

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