Park and ride ‘airspace’ could be sold

A proposal that is part of Auckland Council’s drive to bring in revenue could see the ‘airspace’ above the Silverdale Park and Ride sold and developed for housing, office or commercial use.

In what could be described as a partial asset sale, the proposal seeks to utilise “exciting opportunities for mixed use development and urban living” at 10 park and rides, including the one in Silverdale.

The proposition was put before the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board by representatives of Council’s property arm, Panuku Development, last month.

Panuku Development and Auckland Transport (AT) have come up with the idea as part of a joint ‘integrated asset development strategy’. Among the strategy’s aims are increasing density and intensification around transport nodes, and providing Auckland with additional housing.

How development would work in the ‘airspace’ without affecting the ground space beneath, currently used for parking, is unclear.

In addition, the Silverdale park and ride is already near capacity, with a lot more residential growth occurring. How this scheme could impact on the potential for extending the facility with more parking spaces – for example in a parking building on the site – is also unclear at present.

Panuku did not answer a direct question as to whether the airspace could be sold to a commercial parking provider, except to say they would be looking for high quality development outcomes.

“We are at an early stage in the process and site specific planning is still to be undertaken. Any additional requirements for parking would be a consideration for AT as part of its network planning requirements,” a Panuku spokesperson says.

Panuku’s assets and facilities general manager, Marion Webb, told local board members that the primary focus is to retain transport, but with a mix of alternate uses.

“Unless [any development] works for transport services, it will not be progressed,” she said.

The local board passed a resolution supporting the strategy, including, in principle, the Silverdale park and ride being utilised as part of an integrated transport orientated development.

The resolution also notes that “specified current and future transport options at the Silverdale park and ride ...will remain in Council ownership and continue to be maintained and controlled by AT”.

At a workshop on the same subject last year, the previous local board noted its desire to see the park and ride service in this area expand and remain free of charge.

Cr Wayne Walker is concerned that there appears to be no overarching vision or plan for the future of park and rides. “They are talking about selling the airspace, without knowing whether we will need that space to build up and add more parking. That’s the only option with most of these park and rides because there is no more land available around them. Building an underground space can be very expensive, but we would have to do that if we can’t go up.”

He says he is “not convinced” by Panuku and AT’s assurance that the existing parking is protected in some way.

Whether the public will have any say in the matter depends on what is eventually proposed for the site and whether it meets Unitary Plan rules. A Panuku spokesperson says the proposition is quite a way off from that point yet.

“Any consultation that might be required would be done on a site by site basis as each opportunity is progressed,” the spokesperson says.

Panuku and AT will present the strategy to Auckland Council’s Finance & Performance Committee for final approval this month.

If Council approval is obtained, the development potential of individual park and ride sites will be assessed and a site specific development framework prepared.

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