As a resident of Takapuna, I am concerned. We have a problem. That problem is planning our special little piece of paradise for the future. The future of our kids and the generations to come.
Right now we are having debate about the future of a carpark. Like usual with Takapuna, this is a vigorous debate that is mostly being led by folks within our community who constantly resist change. At the heart of it is a core of people who are anti just about every move towards development and progress for Takapuna. Sure, there are some who have joined them on this journey to battle this particular cause – saving the carpark – but at the heart of the campaign are the same core.
The formula is pretty well established. There is something to save or stop. Politicians who are looking to get elected during that term jump on the band wagon. They become the saviours and heroes of the cause. It’s a guaranteed vote-winner. Most recently the formula usually includes setting up a stall at the market at the same carpark that they are currently ‘trying to save’ and 'getting the numbers'. That formula also includes painting a picture of big greedy business people on the other side. It will also question the honesty of the officials involved in the process and other politicians who have a different view. All aimed at whipping up a frenzy of support.
At the risk of being politically incorrect, this resistance is also being led by the older folk in the community. Future generations are not represented. I went along to a recent save-the-carpark public meeting and stood at the back and observed. I estimate the average age was well-north of 60 and there were two young people there. These were our youngest local board member and another youngster who spoke passionately. But this was the same youngster I heard speak in the same way when the save-the-campground movement was in full swing.
The sad thing is this formula works. And making things even sadder is people get taken along for the ride with it. And even sadder is this is stalling progress for Takapuna and may well lead to very serious problems in the decades ahead as progress and development will be non-existent.
Takapuna, we have a problem.
That problem is that our town centre and what it needs for the future just can’t be planned in the higgledy-piggledy ways of the past, strongly influenced by naysayers. The planning must be left to the experts who are looking at the big picture.
That big picture is about data. That big picture is making sure that all the planning is coordinated to cater for the future. Based on what that data is telling us about the future. A future that will have more people and different requirements that intensity needs.
I totally understand that this planning needs to be questioned and kept honest and subject to scrutiny. But my concern is that it is being totally hijacked, being used as a political football, so we are going to end up with a totally unplanned town centre – which is what we essentially have now.
In the time I have been aware of the Takapuna issues I have seen resistance to lots of wonderful things. Hurstmere Green was one. There were attempts to stop that, and thank goodness they failed, because that’s a wonderful space for Takapuna. The much-needed development of the campground site for local public to use was stopped because rich yachties and dubious business people could not be trusted to deliver the public space. The fabulous Takapuna Beach Playground faced resistance along the way, and thank goodness that failed, how fantastic is that for the community. And now the carpark…
Takapuna, we have a problem.
In summary, our town centre must not be planned by the noisy naysayers. It must be planned by people who know what they are doing with guidance from the community. It must be planned looking at the bigger picture of what the future looks like. It must be coordinated with all the other things that feed in to it. That’s why I am voting to support Panuku’s plans for the Anzac Street carpark site. Option 1. My challenge to the silent majority out there is to do the same… we MUST plan well for the future.
Takapuna, lets solve this problem.
Aidan Bennett, QSM
Disclosure: I am a businessman, I am 55 years old, I am the publisher of Channel Magazine. I was a trustee of the Harbour Access Trust, I was a trustee of the Takapuna Beach Playground Trust. I don’t necessarily share the political ideals of Goff, Darby or Hills – but I do share their desire to get our planning right for the future.