Local residents in Davern Lane, New Lynn, are surprised and angry that a tiny park at the heart of their street is proposed to be sold off for intensive housing development. Instead of a gorgeous 300m3 pocket park, they will have housing. It is this very sort of intensification that makes these small, local reserves even more important.
Many new developments have no significant open areas for kids to play, so a green space in a reserve within walking distance of home is going to become really valuable. Previously kids had generous back lawns but in the new Auckland, those are becoming subdivisions. With the climate emergency, driving to a super park will become less acceptable. On Davern Lane Reserve, a mature Pohutukawa and two other medium size trees will have to go to make way for houses. So much for Council declaring a climate emergency – they are helping create one!
Unfortunately for Council, the headaches will be coming thick and fast from all over Auckland, as they try to flog off land, including up to 70 reserves to balance the books for the Emergency Budget. Council calls it “asset recycling”. From the outside, it looks more like local parks being turned into salaries and wages, never to be seen again.
Whau Local Board member Jessica Rose says, “Originally the park was a Council requirement in the residential development of Davern Lane. It has mature pohutukawa and serves a purpose as the heart of the local community here. In line with good urban design principles, the green space serves as a shared backyard where children play, and dogs walk.
“I can’t see how in a climate emergency, a biodiversity crisis, with much higher urban density, that this green space could be less important now than it was all those years ago when it was a necessity to put in.”
Local boards have been de-looped from the proposals as they will feel a lot of the heat from residents. According to Jessica Rose “They've [Panuku] tried very, very hard to keep boards well out of this process. The photos above don't look like 'corrects a number of zoning errors or anomalies', nor does it fit the 'improve the quality or open space' narrative.”
To their credit, Whau Local Board members Kay Thomas, Jessica Rose, Warren Piper and Fasitua Amosa, joined Davern Lane residents for a day of action as the locals have been activated by the threat of their much-loved reserve being sold.
“Our neighbourhood is being galvanised into action, writing submissions, opposing changes, lobbying our elected representatives, trying to persuade the Council that even though it is surplus to their requirements that it is essential to ours”, says Davern Lane Residents Society spokesperson Tania Makani.
“Auckland Council calls it asset recycling, but the reality is parks being sold, trees being lost, and amenity being traded away”, she says. “It is income at the cost of community, and it means losing a part of the neighbourhood forever.
“Our neighbourhood has grown stronger over this having pulled together in protest but when the reserve is gone (probably for infill housing), what happens to the sense of community it encouraged and the relationships that were grown? Will that also be another treasure lost.”
Puketapapa Local Board member Jon Turner also commented on the issue: “It’s amazing that we can sell off parks but not touch shares in an airport”.
Photos supplied by Davern Reserve Residents Society.