Just get on with it, says Tizard

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

A last minute ob­jec­tion over land clas­si­fi­ca­tion for the re­de­vel­op­ment of the Auck­land Art Gallery has drawn crit­i­cism from Auck­land Cen­tral MP Ju­dith Tizard.

Ear­lier this month Auck­land Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Mike Lee and San­dra Coney, who chairs the coun­cil’s parks and her­itage com­mit­tee, wrote to Land In­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter David Parker ex­press­ing con­cern over a bill to re­clas­sify 1117 square me­tres of Al­bert Park land for the $113 mil­lion project.

But Ms Tizard says the last minute ob­jec­tion is too lit­tle, too late.

Ms Tizard says Mr Lee and Mrs Coney have had “am­ple op­por­tu­nity” to make their con­cerns known at the En­vi­ron­ment Court con­sent hear­ings on the ren­o­va­tion of the gallery’s in­te­rior and ex­ten­sions to the north­ern end.

“This very im­por­tant project has been a long time in the mak­ing and frankly we just need to get on with it,” she says.

The gallery has been closed since Fe­bru­ary, at which time the Auck­land City Coun­cil said it ex­pected the Re­serves and Other Land Dis­posal Bill, which would free up part of Al­bert Park for the ex­ten­sions, would be passed.

But Mr Lee and Ms Coney’s let­ter to Mr Parker says is­sues over the land were too con­tro­ver­sial to be in­cluded in the leg­is­la­tion.

A spokesper­son for Mr Parker says just be­cause there is some un­hap­pi­ness, it doesn’t mean the bill is con­tro­ver­sial. The min­is­ter is seek­ing sup­port from other par­lia­men­tary par­ties for its in­tro­duc­tion into the House.

Art gallery di­rec­tor Chris Saines says he has had le­gal ad­vice say­ing work can start be­fore the bill is passed.

He says of the 1117 square me­tres of land to be re­clas­si­fied, only 100 square me­tres are des­ig­nated park­land, with the rest hav­ing long been set aside for art gallery use.

“Once we have the re­source con­sent in hand, we have per­mis­sion to go ahead,” says Mr Saines.

The En­vi­ron­ment Court is fi­nal­is­ing the con­di­tions of re­source con­sent for the re­de­vel­op­ment, which Mr Saines hopes will be fi­nalised in the next cou­ple of months.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Go­ing ahead: Art gallery di­rec­tor Chris Saines says re­de­vel­op­ment work can start be­fore land is re­clas­si­fied.

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