Update: 5 April 2001
The council committee hearing evidence on a proposal to stop roadway and revoke reserve status on carpark land at Pakuranga Plaza town centre will resume its hearing next Tuesday, 10 April, at 9.30am.
Councillors adjourn after part-hearing
Manukau City Council’s hearings committee adjourned the hearing today of evidence on a council proposal to stop roads and revoke the status of reserves used for parking in the Pakuranga Plaza town centre, with no date set for a resumption and confusion still reigning over whether the whole thing might have been a waste of time.
Objectors told the committee it shouldn’t be hearing the matter because the council had an agreement to sell the road and parking land â€” totalling more than 3ha â€” to Westfield so it can redevelop its shopping centre.
After a few lawyers made the same submission on the propriety of the committee hearing the matter, the committee closed the doors on 31 objectors, lawyers and reporters to decide what to do, and resolved to carry on hearing evidence.
Was that on the question of whether the committee should hand the job over to independent commissioners or make the decision itself? Or was it on the issue of stopping the roads and revoking the reserve designation? At the end of the day’s play, it seemed the six councillors were in a position of having heard most of the evidence but remained undecided on whether they should make the decision on the future of the land.
Their own legal advice was that they could conduct the hearing despite the sale agreement. Assuming a decision in favour of stopping the road and revoking the reserve status, that means that when â€” not if â€” this deal gets to the Environment Court, the council will undoubtedly be on the defensive in having to fight off allegations of bias, both presumed because of the agreement and actual for the way its affairs were conducted.
If the councillors vote against changing the status of the land, Westfield would have to pursue a different course, with a development most unlikely to have the same liberal lack of council control.
Alternatively, the councillors could yet decide not to handle the matter themselves and hand over to independent commissioners, in which case all the evidence would have been wasted breath.
More on this subject later