Archive | Auckland Council

Council maintenance contract decision process enters final stages, Panuku report, home fires bylaw

Auckland Council is nearing the end of a long process to reorganise its maintenance contracts for parks, council buildings & open space, called Project 17.

Preferred suppliers were identified last Friday and the council’s community facilities department is taking its proposals to local boards over the next fortnight, starting with a session at the local board chairs’ forum today.

The material before local boards is extensive, set out in 8 documents:

Attachment 1, political engagement timeline
Attachment 2, local board resolutions (September 2016)
Attachment 3, standard & enhanced assets
Attachment 4, full facilities contract service specifications
Attachment 5, supplier-specific information (in confidential agendas)
Attachment 6, contractor performance balanced scorecard
Attachment 7, tupuna maunga values specification
Attachment 8, contract information (in confidential agendas).

According to the schedule outlined for local boards, the council’s strategic procurement committee is set to make its recommendations on supplier contracts at the end of next week, so the finance & performance committee can agree suppliers, pricing & baseline service levels the following week.

In April, as part of the council annual plan process, local board workshops will be held to discuss locally driven initiative funding priorities, which may include recommendations to enhance maintenance service levels.

In another round of workshops at the end of April & early May, local boards are scheduled to agree local service level priorities.

Public submissions on the council’s annual plan close on Monday 27 March.

The council governing body will meet on 31 May-1 June to finalise its 2017-18 budgets, and new maintenance contracts will start on the first day of the new financial year, 1 July.

In other material before local boards over the next fortnight:

Panuku reports on Wynyard, waterfront strategy & own lease

The first tenants have moved into the Mason Brothers building in the Wynyard Quarter. The building is part of stage 1 of Precinct Properties NZ Ltd’s programme of developing commercial sites in the quarter.

Council organisation Ateed (Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development Ltd) has taken the head lease on the neighbouring new development of 12 Madden St for the establishment of Grid AKL, the coworking space for innovative business & startups. It’s scheduled for completion in July.

Panuku Development Auckland’s lease on its Westhaven office expires mid-year, and the organisation says it’s likely that it will be more cost effective for Panuku to move to a modest-quality building in the cbd rather than remain in its current building.

Panuku is working on a refresh of the waterfront strategy, which will frame future development within the cbd waterfront area. It will be report to the council on the strategy this month, and draft framework plans will be reported in May.

Home fires bylaw

The council publicly notified the draft air quality bylaw for indoor domestic fires on 27 February, and public submissions close on Monday 27 March.

Local boards have been given until Monday 3 April to send in written submissions, and can give oral submissions at a local board hearings session scheduled for Wednesday 19 April.

Project 17, Auckland Council maintenance contracts
Grid AKL
Draft air quality bylaw & statement of proposal

Attribution: Council agendas.

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A weighty 3 days for Auckland councillors

Auckland Council’s politicians enter day 2 today of 3 days of weighty issues to start the third term of the council.

The planning committee met yesterday, the finance & performance committee gives its first consideration today to mayor Phil Goff’s proposal on the annual budget, and tomorrow the regulatory committee has a number of issues to consider.

I’ll run more extensive reports later in the week on all 3 meetings. For the moment, below are some of the questions resolved at the planning committee meeting:

The committee agreed to lodge an appeal in the High Court against conditions in a KiwiRail designation concerning crossings on the long-proposed Avondale-Southdown railway line.

The committee agreed the council should make a submission on the NZ Transport Agency’s proposals for the East-West link between State highway 1 at Mt Wellington & State highway 20 at Onehunga, set up a political reference group to deal with urgent issues during the hearing, then expanded the reference group because a number of other councillors wanted to be on it.

A political reference group was also set up on the northern corridor improvements project, which is the final piece of the Western ring route jigsaw.

The committee debated whether the housing accord should be extended to allow for the last special housing areas to remain covered by it, instead of falling under the regulations of the new unitary plan, but eventually went with an extension.

Attribution: Committee meetings.

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Council development agency to decide initial shortlist by December

Auckland Council’s new development agency will cut a list of 9 large-site targets down to a shortlist of 2-3 when it reports back to the council’s Auckland development committee on 10 December.

When council strategists started on the project they had a list of 64 large sites that were recommended, referred to as type 1. The agency formed on 1 September, Panuku Development Auckland, will take over from here.

The council’s principal business growth & infrastructure advisor, David Taylor, said in a report to the committee yesterday the type 1 urban redevelopment areas would require a high custodial, long-term approach, such as the redevelopment activities at the Auckland waterfront. This was integral to council priorities such as spatial priorities & special housing areas.

The 9 areas on the list at the moment are Manukau, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Newmarket, Northcote, Takapuna, Mt Eden Station, Avondale & Henderson.

Cllr Cameron Brewer said Newmarket & Mt Eden station were potentially the top 2 in terms of market attractiveness, but asked if they were unlikely to make the shortlist because the council would have less land influence there.

Mr Taylor said all recommended sites had tradeoffs, and at this stage of Panuku’s existence control over how an area developed was important to it: “Without any funding for Panuku, land is a key element.”

Cllr Brewer warned that the public raised concerns about the role the council might get into in development: “If we’re starting to get into the role of purchasing land….” He said Panuku’s role needed to be in forming partnerships and facilitating development not in competing with the private sector.

Cllr Cathy Casey pointed to a role of providing housing for the elderly but was concerned at the emphasis on location, citing the Catholic Church’s Liston Village as an example where there was competition between taking land occupied by a number of elderly residents and using it for a park: “The local board has the view given the housing shortage that we retain the village. The location doesn’t enter into your list, but housing for older people is an issue across the whole region.”

Mr Taylor said Panuku had housing for older people as a separate project line. He said the initial type 1 category was about size, where the council agency could facilitate development and draw in partners: “Where we had some skin in the game was important.”

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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First priority list proposed for new council development agency

Auckland Council staff will put 9 locations to a council committee on Thursday as priority areas for its new development arm to focus on.

They are: Manukau, Otahuhu, Onehunga, Newmarket, Northcote, Takapuna, Mt Eden Station, Avondale & Henderson.

These areas were selected after an urban location analysis project and will be put to the council’s Auckland development committee as areas for the new agency, to Panuku Development Auckland, to consider.

Panuku Development Auckland was formed on 1 September through the merger of Auckland Council Property Ltd & Waterfront Auckland.

The council’s principal business growth & infrastructure advisor, David Taylor, says in a report for Thursday’s meeting the analysis was done in the transition to recommend locations for the new “type 1” urban redevelopment programme, which would require a high custodial, long-term approach to redevelopment, such as the redevelopment activities at the Auckland waterfront.

Mr Taylor said the work done through this project, and the focus of Panuku especially as it relates to type 1 locations, was integral to council priorities such as spatial priorities & special housing areas.

The new organisation’s board could now shortlist type 1 locations and develop a type 1 programme. Mr Taylor said Panuku would also prioritise the existing portfolio carried over from Auckland Council Property and the treatment of these projects into other less custodial programmes.

“Panuku will seek to develop a view on the full range of programmes – including the next-order type 2 & 3 locations – they will take forward across the Auckland region and will engage further with councillors, local boards & communities on this before the end of the year.”

Attribution: Committee agenda.

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Propbd on Q Th28May15 2 – 4 apartments sell, new bylaws for signs, film fees & nuisance, council shakeup agreed

4 apartments sell at Ray White auction
New signs bylaw in place but healthy food addition rejected
New filming fees schedule
Nuisance bylaw
Shakeup & higher chief executive delegation agreed

4 apartments sell at Ray White auction

4 of the 6 apartments offered at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today were sold under the hammer. Auction results:

Nova en Scotia, 18 Scotia Place, unit 1A, sold for $280,000, Bain Duigan
Aura, 53 Cook St, unit 1203, sold for $341,500, Dominic Worthington
Aura, 53 Cook St, unit 110, sold for $332,500, Damian Piggin & Daniel Horrobin
The Quays, 99 Customs St West, leasehold, passed in at $200,000, Aled Luffman & James Mairs
Parnell, Cowie Court, 4 Cowie St, unit 6, no bid, Dominic Worthington
Scene 1, 2 Beach Rd, unit 1113, leasehold, sold for $145,000, Dominic Worthington

New signs bylaw in place but healthy food addition rejected

Auckland Council’s governing body adopted its new signs bylaw in a meeting in the old North Shore City Council chamber at Takapuna today, replacing bylaws of the region’s former councils, effective 1 October.

The council rejected a last-minute addition to the recommendation from Cllr Chris Darby for the council’s social policy & bylaws manager to report on a policy “for the advertising of alcohol brands & products, and products & brands that give preference to advertising which supports health & healthy lifestyle choices”.

Cllr Darby said Auckland Transport had adopted a policy in that direction, which Cllr Cathy Casey said arose after she’d photographed a group of schoolchildren at a bus stop where alcohol was advertised.

Although the addition wouldn’t change the bylaw, it was defeated 14-3. However, it may be incorporated in a review of the council’s alcohol reduction policy this year.

New filming fees schedule

The council governing body adopted a new schedule of filming fees from 1 November.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse said: “We have to let people know we’re open for business. This is a big money-earner. It isn’t to make it difficult, it’s to make it easier.”

Nuisance bylaw

The third bylaw the governing body dealt was the property maintenance & nuisance bylaw, to come into effect on 1 November.

Shakeup & higher chief executive delegation agreed

Councillors had a long debate before agreeing a shakeup of the council committee structure. They also agreed raising the financial delegation to the chief executive from the $7.5 million set in 2011 to $20 million, and to increase joint approval with the mayor or relevant committee chair from $10 million to $22.5 million. An attempt by Cllr Cameron Brewer to limit the delegation to the chief executive to $15 million was defeated 13-6.

Link for council items: Today’s governing body agenda

Attribution: Company release.

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Propbd on Q Th14May15 – Ports study format agreed, 4 apartments sell, council approves private plan changes, process review

Ports study format agreed
All 4 apartments sell at Ray White auction
Council approves plan changes, discusses consent process review

Ports study format agreed

Auckland Council’s Auckland development committee agreed the format for its ports study this afternoon in a unanimous vote. Fuller story to come.
Link: Approach to port study set out for Thursday meeting

All 4 apartments sell at Ray White auction

All 4 apartments taken to action at Ray White City Apartments today sold under the hammer, and quickly – a reversal of the auction-room view yesterday, hours after Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler announced changes to lending policy particularly affecting residential investors. Auction results:

H47, 47 Hobson St, unit 1204, sold for $700,000, sales agent Jean Ooi
1 on Ophir, 1 Ophir St, unit 1B, sold for $452,000, Dominic Worthington
Eclipse, 156 Vincent St, unit 14F, sold for $305,000, Krister Samuel
Forte, 37 Symonds St, unit 104, sold for $305,000, Lorraine Garnett

Council approves plan changes, discusses consent process review

Auckland Council’s Auckland development committee began discussing the scoping of its proposed ports study this afternoon after a morning of approving 2 plan changes for notification and a long discussion on a review of resource consent processing in light of the protests over consent allowing felling of some old native trees on a Titirangi section.

Private plan changes approved:

Mt Roskill, 1370-78 Dominion Rd, private plan change 315 approved to be made operative – NZ Transport Agency application to rezone land no longer required for transport purposes to residential B

Balmoral, 178 Balmoral Rd & 16 Rocklands Avenue, private plan change 209 approved to be made operative – application by The Warehouse Group Ltd & subsidiary company Eldamos Investments Ltd to rezone residential sites to business 2 zone as part of development of Warehouse store

On the way the consent applications for construction of a house at 40 & 42 Paturoa Rd, Titirangi, was dealt with, the review panel of senior executives wrote in its report: “In light of the findings of this review, and the particular facts pertinent to the 2 applications under consideration, no particular matters have arisen warranting recommendations associated with the current Resource Management Act reform process.”

However, staff faced a long list of questions from the committee. More to come in a separate report.

The committee deferred discussion of the council 30-year infrastructure strategy because the detail of the item only went to committee members last night.

Link: Committee agenda

Attribution: Auction, council meeting.

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Auditor-general questions slow Auckland consents & forecasting mismatch

Auditor-general Lyn Provost speaks mildly & matter-of-factly when she chides a council, but chide Auckland Council for its building consent processes she has.

Her report, Auckland Council: How it deals with building consents, was presented to Parliament on 29 April (so I’m slow, too, in reporting on it).

Chief criticisms:

  • The council’s paper-based system is all-round inefficient & expensive for both council & applicants – but the move to electronic consenting is planned
  • Total elapsed time for consents suggests the gap between what the council expects and what customers believe is expected of them is wide
  • A sample of charges proved significantly higher than the fees shown on the council website
  • The council communicates poorly or inconsistently
  • Modelling assumptions & predictions differ between the building control department & housing project office
  • The council should extend its predictions the length of the long-term plan, to 2025.

International Accreditation NZ recently reconfirmed Auckland Council as an accredited consenting authority, complimenting it on the quality of its work, and issuing no corrective action requests.

Mrs Provost said the council was performing its responsibilities as a building consent authority “reasonably well”: “Building Control’s internal quality assurance procedures are sound, with systems & technical audits carried out routinely. It also has a good standard of internal reporting of workflows & how well it meets targets.”

She said the council should introduce electronic lodgement of consents sooner than planned, and she raised the question many an applicant asks when confronted with the almost inevitable request for further information.

“Building Control is technically meeting its statutory deadline of processing most applications within 20 working days, but this does not take into consideration the time that applications go ‘on hold’. When total elapsed time is taken into consideration, 80% of applications are processed within 40 working days. The fact that 70% of applications lodged go on hold pending further information suggests there is a large gap between what Building Control expects and what customers believe is expected of them.

“Architectural & building firms told us that Building Control does not always communicate well or in a consistent way, and surveys show that customers are not satisfied with how Building Control communicates. Auckland Council should continue to seek to improve customers’ experiences.”

A sounder response to these criticisms may be on the way – council chief executive Stephen Town said in a presentation to a Colliers International audience this week the council was beginning a review of how you go about getting development approval.

“We’re doing an end-to-end review from the customer’s point of view, how to get a development approval. How do you get everything you need to establish what you want to do? We are committed to changing our strategies & processes,” Mr Town said.

Mrs Provost said the council building control department expected increased demand for services and was working to have the capacity & capability. It’s recruiting new graduates to address challenges it faces because of an ageing workforce, is introducing new training initiatives and is putting measures in place to ensure all technical staff have the requisite qualifications in time to meet new regulatory requirements.

It was also carrying out “risk-based consenting” initiatives to reduce the processing times for minor work, for standardised housing consent applications and for building firms that enter into specific agreements with the council: “These good steps are in the early stages of development.”

The Auditor-general said giving staff tablets to record inspections should improve productivity.

But the question remained: How do council charges in a sample taken by the Auditor-general’s office differ so much from those the council posts on its website? “My staff compared Auckland Council’s consent charges to those of other large local authorities. Because of differences in how buildings are grouped and building value thresholds, it was difficult to draw any firm conclusions. However, I noted that the average cost of a sample of actual consent fees in Auckland was significantly higher than the fees shown on Auckland Council’s website.

“This suggests more time was needed to process the consent applications than was expected. The differences from other local authorities provide an opportunity for Auckland Council, and all local authorities, to discuss how to get costs into line or to make comparisons easier.”

The forecasting model used to predict future demand for services is continually being refined. The assumptions and predictions used in modelling by the Housing Project Office and Building Control differ.

Mrs Provost said far fewer building consents had resulted from the Auckland housing accord & special housing areas than Building Control expected: “The model will need to be adjusted to take account of the different bases of measurement between Building Control & the housing project office.

“I consider that the model should also be improved by including projections to at least the next long-term plan horizon (2025). It should also explicitly link the timing & productivity benefits of transformation projects to the resources needed.”

Link: Auditor-general, report on Auckland building consents

Attribution: Auditor-general’s report.

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Propbd on Q Th7May15 (2) – Symonds unit sells, transport levy approved

One sells, one passed in at apartments auction
Council agrees interim transport levy

One sells, one passed in at apartments auction

One cbd apartment was sold and one on the Great North Rd ridge in Grey Lynn was passed in at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today. Auction results:

Ariki, 221 Great North Rd, unit 3F, passed in at $680,000 after reserve declared at $700,000, sales agent Rae Zhang
96 on Symonds, 96 Symonds St, unit 1008, sold for $215,000, Daniel Horrobin & Damian Piggin

Council agrees interim transport levy

Auckland Council’s budget committee approved an interim transport levy – $99/year/residence, $159/year/business, or $2 & $3/week – at its long-term plan meeting today.

The levy is intended to be in place for 3 years while alternative funding is resolved and estimated to raise $170-179 million/year for non-city rail link works.

The Government has so far rejected both alternatives proposed in a consultation paper, a fuel tax versus motorway tolling, but mayor Len Brown said discussions were still underway.

The committee rejected an alternative from Cllrs Dick Quax & Cameron Brewer to find the money within current council opex budgets, and an alternative worked on by Cllr Ross Clow to raise the same money but with reduced impact on lower-value property.

Following the transport levy decision, the committee spent the rest of the afternoon going through a list of items put up through other committees, including a call for Regional Facilities Auckland to return to stakeholders on its proposal to rejig stadium use.

Well down the list (after my departure) was a proposal to change the council’s development contributions policy. I expected the proposal to be carried, going on voting during the day, but will confirm that tomorrow.

Once those items are all dealt with, the committee was to vote on creating Development Auckland Ltd, a redevelopment & regeneration authority along the lines of the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority in Perth, Western Australia. That vote might come at the end of the afternoon or early tomorrow, but I expect it to be carried.

Attribution: Auction, council committee.

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Propbd on Q T5May15 – Esanda for sale, inspections cancellation charge, Warehouse bond, PFI resumes DRS & ups loan facility

ANZ to sell Esanda dealer finance business
Council votes in fee for last-minute cancellation of building inspections
Warehouse considers new bond offer
PFI resumes DRS scheme and increases loan facility

ANZ to sell Esanda dealer finance business

ANZ Banking Group Ltd said today it intends to sell its Esanda dealer finance business. The bank expects to issue an information memorandum to potential bidders this month.

The sale will include about $A8.3 billion in lending assets comprising point-of-sale finance, bailment facilities & other Esanda-branded finance offered to vehicle dealers.

The bank’s chief executive for Australia, Mark Whelan, said: “The sale of the Esanda dealer finance business is part of a broader group priority to actively manage our portfolio of businesses to ensure we use capital efficiently, as well as a focus on ANZ-branded products.”

He said the bank would continue to provide asset finance for its customers under the ANZ brand, and the sale didn’t include the ANZ commercial broker, commercial asset finance or direct to consumer asset finance businesses.

ANZ bought the ASX-listed English, Scottish & Australian Bank Ltd in 1970 but chose to use this one piece of ES&A without rebranding it.

Council votes in fee for last-minute cancellation of building inspections

Auckland Council’s regulatory & bylaws committee approved setting a $135 fee (including gst) yesterday for customers for a building inspection who cancel on the day of inspection.

A staff report said: “Delivering an inspection service within 48 hours is challenging. A principal reason is the large number of inspection bookings which are cancelled on the day of the inspection. Same-day cancellations are currently running at 10% of the total number of inspection visits booked (regionally 700-800/day)…. The high level of cancellations is driven by builders block booking inspections in advance. The end result of this is that other customers are unable to book at the day/time they wish to have their inspection.”

The report said the proposal had been discussed extensively with industry representatives, including Master Builders & Certified Builders, and had been met with strong support as it would enable the council to provide inspections within 48 hours of request from well organised customers.

Warehouse considers new bond offer

The Warehouse Group Ltd said yesterday it was considering making an offer of new 5-year unsecured, unsubordinated, fixed-rate bonds to refinance its $100 million senior bond maturing on 15 June and for general corporate purposes.

The company will seek up to $100 million, with oversubscriptions taking the total to $125 million in a general offer to retail & institutional investors and an exchange offer to holders of the maturing bonds.

PFI resumes DRS scheme and increases loan facility

Property For Industry Ltd announced a first-quarter cash dividend of 1.75c/share yesterday, with imputation credits of 0.4334c/share attached and a supplementary dividend of 0.1967c/share for non-resident shareholders. It will also reinstate the dividend reinvestment scheme, which hasn’t been applied since the May 2012 dividend.

The company’s guidance for the December 2015 financial year is unchanged – distributable profit 7.35c/share, cash dividends 7.30c/share.

Joint general managers Nick Cobham & Simon Woodhams said PFI had secured a $25 million increase in its syndicated bank loan facility to $375 million and refinanced on competitive terms. The refinanced facility, provided by existing lenders ANZ Banking Group, Bank of NZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia & Westpac, comprises 2 $187.5 million tranches, one committed for 4 years and the other for 5.

From an average term to expiry of 3.8 years and weighted average cost of debt of 5.96% at 31 December 2014, the average term to expiry has extended to 4½ years and the average cost of debt is 6.08%.

Attribution: Council & company releases.

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Propbd on Q Th09Apr15 – Quinn replaces Blakeley at council, 2 sell at Ray White apartments auction

Jim Quinn replaces Blakeley at Auckland Council
Dilworth & Farmers units sell

Jim Quinn replaces Blakeley at Auckland Council

Jim Quinn.

Jim Quinn.

Auckland Council has appointed KiwiRail’s first chief executive, Jim Quinn, to the new council role of chief of strategy, replacing chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakely.

Council chief executive Stephen Town said simply of Dr Blakeley’s departure, that he had completed his fixed term, which began with the creation of the super-city council in November 2010.

Mr Quinn led the integration of New Zealand’s rail assets in KiwiRail’s first 5 years through to February 2014 and created the plan to turn the business around.

Dilworth & Farmers units sell

A Dilworth unit and one in Heritage Farmers were sold under the hammer at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today and 3 other units were passed in. Auction results:

Manhattan, 105 Albert St, unit 2F, passed in at vendor bid of $480,000, sales agents Mitch Agnew & Krister Samuel
Dilworth, 22 Queen St, unit 5D, sold for $660,000, Adele Keane & Krister Samuel
Heritage Farmers, 35 Hobson St, unit 532, sold for $215,000, Ryan Bridgman
Le Parc, 132 Customs St West, unit 3B, leasehold, passed in at $520,000, Donald Gibbs
Scene 1, 2 Beach Rd, unit 1315, leasehold, passed in at $135,000, Donald Gibbs

Attribution: Council release, auction.

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