A highly sensitive report calling for a sell down of parks in Auckland to prop up the finances of the cash-strapped council is heading behind closed doors for fine-tuning by councillors.
The report says the council could bank between $200 million and $600m from selling parkland and open space to developers and others over the next few years.
Parkland to go on the block has not been identified, but the council has tested the idea on two Local Board areas for land that does not meet its "parks provision policy" in terms of function, configuration and location.
Why contemplate selling parks when the population is forecast to grow by one million? We need more, not less, green space
The two selected areas have found the sale of "non-service" parkland outside the policy could boost the council's coffers by between $200m and $600m after some of the proceeds are used to buy more suitable parkland.
The report was considered on June 7 by the appointments, performance review and value for money committee chaired by Mayor Phil Goff, which recommended it go to a closed-door workshop of councillors and be reported back to the committee.
When the report appeared as an open item on the governing body meeting yesterday, Goff said he had taken it out with the agreement of committee members to workshop the issues.
"I did not want a report that looked like a fait accompli before we have worked through it in detail, that is just good process," Goff said.
Manurewa-Papakura councillor Daniel Newman is vehemently opposed to the "fire-sale" of parkland, saying it is being justified in part to meet the financial targets in the new 10-year budget.
"After we've offended almost every community in Auckland and netted between $200m and $600m from the proceeds of sale of parks and open space land, what will be left to sell?" he said.
The sale of parkland is not new. Mayor Phil Goff has publicly spoken about the sale of golf courses, such as Remuera, for housing. A 2.8ha block of land previously leased to Remuera Golf Course and not used for golf is currently being sold for housing.
The report says parkland is currently sold on a cumbersome and ad hoc basis and the council should develop a more efficient system after consulting with the community and identifying "non-service" parkland to be sold.
There is the risk, the report says, of opposition from Local Boards and communities who view parkland as specific to their area, rather one element in a network.
A no-holds-barred review of council assets by Cameron and Partners in 2015 suggested the council could sell 5 per cent of its parks for $2.25b. It added the Remuera, Chamberlain Park, Pupuke and Takapuna golf courses could be sold for $1.4b for housing with 30 per cent reserved for public space.
At the time when Goff was considering standing for the Auckland mayoralty, he said: "Why contemplate selling parks when the population is forecast to grow by one million? We need more, not less, green space."
Last night Goff told the Herald that "parks and open space are important community assets and vital to Auckland as our city grows. More work is needed on the review before councillors can consider any recommendations."