Major plans are underway to develop 254 Ponsonby Road in Ponsonby into a civic space for the community.
The site, currently home to a liquor store, was purchased by Auckland City Council in 2006 with the intention to develop part of it into a civic space. However, locals have long campaigned for the entire site to become a dedicated civic and open space for people, events, activity, and relaxation.
When the wider community were asked what they wanted for the site, 77% of people voted for the entire site to become an urban park. Following this clear preference from the community, in 2015 Waitematā Local Board allocated $10,000 towards funding a grassroots community-led process to find a preferred design for the project.
This process saw community members take the lead in identifying a design using a ‘bottom-up’ approach which was informed by ongoing robust community consultation.
Three separate rounds of community consultation showed what locals wanted in the park:
- a place to sit and relax
- an urban green space
- a place to hold markets and events
- a play space
- an area to host public art
- a place which demonstrates sustainable design
- space that would encourage and foster social connections.
Eleven designs were submitted to the community for consideration and in 2017, a design by Auckland-based landscape architects and urban designers LandLAB was selected.
LandLAB call their design PARK+ and describe the vision behind their design as, “...sensitively and adaptively reusing existing structures and features to create a hybrid open space and destination that captures the urbanity, spirit and sense of Ponsonby Road.”
In November, LandLAB’s PARK+ design was announced the Winner in the Future Civic category at the World Architecture News Awards.
The Ponsonby Park Community Led Design Group spokesperson Jennifer Ward says, “The community-led design process identified a number of community needs that the LandLAB, PARK+ design skilfully addresses and satisfies, in a sustainable and people-centred way.”
Waitematā Local Board endorsed the design and following the selection process, chose the development of 254 Ponsonby Road as their one Local Initiative for funding as part of the Long-Term Plan 2018-2028.
This week, the board and the Ponsonby Park Community Led Design Group presented the preferred option for whole site development and LandLAB’s design to the Environment and Community Committee.
There were celebrations when the committee unanimously supported the retention of the whole site for the purpose of developing a civic space.
Waitematā Local Board deputy chair Shale Chambers says the committee’s decision is a great victory for the community who have spent many years campaigning for their vision of an urban "Ponsonby Park".
“We’re proud to have supported a community-led approach that has achieved a significant result,” he says.
Chairperson Pippa Coom agrees that the project has reached a major milestone this week.
“It’s a great example of a community empowerment approach and hard work paying off to win the support of the wider council to progress a project that has been 12 years in the making."
The Ponsonby Park Community Led Design Group is thrilled and see this as another step toward the realisation of 'Ponsonby Park'.
“We’re absolutely celebrating the support from the Environment and Community Committee,” says Ms Ward.
Visit the Ponsonby Park website to keep up to date with the latest at 254 Ponsonby Road.