Monday, June 24, 2024

Auckland Council buys botanic gardens expansion site for $12.37m

Auckland Council has paid $12.37 million for 1.6 hectares (4 acres) of land on Hill Road in Manurewa to extend the iconic Auckland Botanic Gardens.

Mayor, Wayne Brown says a large land acquisition is a difficult decision to make at a time of significant budget constraints, but the benefit for future generations and open space provision in a fast-growing part of the region weighed heavily in favour of the purchase.

“We have made a decision that will protect one of the region’s most treasured assets and provide both guaranteed access and greater protection to the Gardens,” the Mayor said.

“We had to act now to protect it from inappropriate development, or this opportunity would have been lost forever.”

(Photo: Bayleys).

Council paid $12.37m for the property. Excluding GST, this will see $10.76m funded by debt, he said.

“We don’t have funds sitting in reserve for open space purposes, so the choice to debt-fund this acquisition is based on spreading the cost of a strategic capital investment across the generations that will use it.”

The first and largest block of land acquired for the Auckland Botanic Gardens was purchased by the Auckland Regional Authority from the Nathan Estate in 1967 beginning a long association between the Gardens and the Nathan family.

“Our father’s generation chose to make their family farm available as a botanic garden for Auckland, instead of subdividing it. As neighbours, we have remained passionate supporters of the Gardens and are thrilled that we can continue to be part of the Auckland Botanic Gardens history and to see the Gardens grow,” said a Nathan family representative.

“We think Jack Hobbs and his team has done a wonderful job and look forward to seeing how they integrate this property into the Gardens for everyone to enjoy.”

(Photo: Bayleys).

Planning, Environment and Parks Committee Chair, Councillor Richard Hills says the land acquisition offers room for growth and a future opportunity to develop themed gardens in alignment with the Auckland Botanic Gardens Masterplan.

“Ethnobotanical gardens are one of the masterplan’s elements and it’s exciting to think that this space could offer the opportunity to include Māori and Pasifika traditional gardens that provide educational, ecological and cultural experiences for visitors and future generations,” he said.

“Alongside meeting our core purpose of a being a spectacular south pacific botanic garden, there’s also a practical element that scored highly when assessing whether to buy this land.

“The ever-increasing popularity of the Gardens draws more and more visitors each year, putting pressure on busy Hill Road and creating traffic safety and management challenges.

“Being able to extend the Gardens’ frontage further along Hill Road has the potential to address current traffic management issues when budget allows,.”

The Friends of Auckland Botanic Gardens has congratulated the Council on acquiring what it says is a strategically important property. Friends President, Viv Canham says the property will ultimately add much value to the experience of the Gardens’ one million-plus annual visitors.

“Its elevated north-facing aspect and roadside location opens up exciting possibilities, and the Friends look forward to actively supporting its development,” says Mrs Canham.

Auckland Council’s representative on the Friends’ executive, Councillor Christine Fletcher, says the Gardens are a particularly important piece of the heart of south Auckland.

“The Gardens carries all the hallmarks and values of the regional parks network, whose founders were referred to as ‘dreamers of the day’ for their foresight in securing such valuable land as open space for generations of Aucklanders to enjoy,” she said.

“It is heartwarming to think that we have been able to add to that legacy.”

Cr Fletcher also acknowledged the incredible partnership that the Friends has with the council.

“Through its membership, support and fundraising, the Friends continue to add value to the Gardens and have signalled their ongoing commitment to ensure operating costs can be minimised as we bring this land into the Gardens’ footprint,” said Cr Fletcher.

The future use of the land will be held as a regional park and be protected in perpetuity under the Local Government Act 2002. This means that the land will be held in public ownership for natural, cultural, ecological, botanical and recreational purposes, and is protected from disposal.Auckland Botanic Gardens gets around one million visitors annually. Visitation peaked at 1,142,057 in 2019/20 when it hosted Sculpture in the Gardens and has almost doubled since 2004/05 – due to the opening of the Huakaiwaka Visitor Centre.ENDSNotes for editors:120 Hill Road, Manurewa images – please credit BayleysAdditional images show Auckland Botanic Gardens and can be credited to Auckland Council.

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