A partnership with Panuku to shape Pukekohe’s future will be positive, Franklin Local Board chair Angela Fulljames says.
“A high-level plan has been approved but there’s a lot to be done before changes are seen, including consulting with home-owners, businesspeople and residents.”
Pukekohe is facing rapid growth and its population is booming, and Panuku says its work will create a hub for southern Auckland and northern Waikato.
Auckland Deputy Mayor and Franklin Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore welcomes that.
“Panuku's regeneration will retain Pukekohe’s country feel while creating opportunity and employment.”
The plan came under fire recently in reports hundreds of carparks and the farmer’s market would disappear.
Franklin Local Board deputy chair Andy Baker says that’s just wrong.
“The regeneration is an unprecedented opportunity for us.”
After working alongside board colleagues and Panuku, he says the board is adamant the town’s rural service character be retained alongside the parking that makes it possible.
“There’s a parking strategy to be completed before anything happens and there will be improvements like electronic signs showing where parks are available.
“We’re looking at how we can make better use of existing spaces or enter into agreements with developers that increase parking opportunities.”
Ms Fulljames says market organisers have met with Panuku over moving to the town square so the stage can be used.
“There hasn’t been any talk about increasing charges, only about trying it in December and collecting stallholder and public feedback.”
Mr Cashmore says community groups and organisations that have been briefed have been enthusiastic, while Mr Baker says any changes will be about ensuring Pukekohe can compete with “shiny new centres”.
Panuku chief executive Roger MacDonald says Pukekohe has a lot of potential.
"It’s a town with great heritage, shopping, local food, arts and culture, sports and recreation, and a diverse community.”
Pukekohe services a large area but many locals commute for work, schooling and other reasons, and Auckland Council wants urban regeneration so that the area becomes competitive, with better access to employment, education and healthcare.
The council’s planning committee approved the Unlock Pukekohe plan earlier this year at the same times as it accepted a recommendation that 27 properties could be sold to fund change, with any proceeds returned to the town.
“This is about people having more opportunities to live, shop and work in Franklin. It's exciting when you consider the board always hears we need this or that, but that we can’t afford it,” Ms Fulljames says.