Mt Al­bert doesn’t want re­fusal again

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

There are fears Mt Al­bert town cen­tre could miss out on a long awaited up­grade as Auck­land Coun­cil looks to make sav­ings.

The state of the town cen­tre is de­clin­ing and the re­newal project has been promised for at least a decade.

‘‘It seems to be one of those things that gets put on hold ev­ery time the coun­cil needs money,’’ Mt Al­bert Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion co-chair­man Fran­cis Mor­timer says.

Last year the Al­bert-Eden Lo­cal Board an­nounced the project was fi­nally kick­ing into gear when a long-term ground lease was se­cured for what is now a carpark, next to 911 New North Rd.

The carpark is to be turned into a plaza link­ing the train sta­tion with the shop­ping area at a cost of $5 mil­lion.

A con­nect­ing bridge is to be built from the train sta­tion.

More work is be­ing done to se­cure other ground leases and de­tailed de­sign con­cepts are ex­pected to be re­leased shortly.

Fund­ing for the project is ex­pected over the next three fi­nan­cial years.

But res­i­dents are wor­ried not all of the money will be avail­able as Auck­land Coun- cil seeks to save $2.8 bil­lion in its 2015 to 2025 Long Term Plan.

Sav­ings are needed to keep rate in­creases be­tween 2.5 and 3.5 per cent.

‘‘We were told cat­e­gor­i­cally that the money was se­cured,’’ Mt Al­bert Res­i­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber Cather­ine Good­win says.

‘‘Now we’re told that any cer­tainty around fu­ture fund­ing is lost,’’ she says.

The project is what is needed to breathe life into Mt Al­bert, Mor­timer says.

‘‘All that is hap­pen­ing is that Mt Al­bert shop­ping cen­tre is de­clin­ing. Busi­ness has moved away.

‘‘We need some clar­ity about what will hap­pen and when the budget will be al­lo­cated,’’ he says.

The res­i­dents’ as­so­ci­a­tion is frus­trated they haven’t had clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the lo­cal board, but board chair­man Peter Haynes says it has no more in­for­ma­tion to give.

The coun­cil an­nounced in June that $23 mil­lion is be­ing set aside in its an­nual plan for this fi­nan­cial year to fund re­newal projects in town cen­tres in­clud­ing Mt Al­bert.

Mayor Len Brown is set to re­lease his ini­tial pro­posal for the next Long Term Plan next month.

At the same time, con­sul- tation is un­der­way on lo­cal board plans which set the pri­or­i­ties for Auck­land’s 21 wards.

The Mt Al­bert re­newal project is at the fore­front of Al­bert-Eden’s plan, Haynes says.

Sub­mit­ting on this doc­u­ment is the best way for res­i­dents to make their pri­or­i­ties clear, he says.

The board shares the frus­tra­tions of the res­i­dents over the time it has taken to get the project mov­ing, he says.

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