Local buildings at the ‘heart of communities’

Publish Date : 02 Mar 2016
Local buildings at the ‘heart of communities’
Many residents of Birkenhead feel their new library is an iconic building which shapes the identity of the community.

A recent council survey has revealed a strong appreciation of local buildings among Aucklanders.

Over 4,000 respondents to the Auckland Council People’s Panel survey indicated that public buildings are important to people’s sense of identity in their local community, with over 87 per cent of those surveyed saying they thought a library should be located in a town centre.

This was true even of people who made little or no use of library services, showing that libraries still have an important place as a ‘face of the council’, and as a central hub for the community.

New library buildings on the North Shore have also had a big impact, with around a quarter of Devonport residents and nearly half of those in Birkenhead citing their new libraries for being ‘iconic buildings which shape the identity of the community’.

"Library spaces are evolving into engaging, multi-purpose community facilities," says Allison Dobbie, Auckland Council's General Manager Libraries and Information.

"At the same time, more library services and activities are being delivered in a wider range of public buildings, vibrant outdoor spaces and pop-up venues. This approach will enable us to meet the demands of a diverse and growing Auckland.”

Local shops also important

The survey's results weren’t all about public buildings though. A similar proportion of Aucklanders think it is important to have local shops in a town centre.

In a strong sign of the importance Aucklanders place on local amenities, over 80 per cent of respondents also thought that being near a well-designed town centre with good facilities would increase their property values, with 36 per cent expecting it to ‘greatly increase’ values.

Meeting communities’ needs

Ian Reid from Auckland Council’s asset planning team said the survey's results indicated the council’s work was ‘in line with signals from the community.’

“Often we have surveys of users or services in council buildings, but these don’t give us a feel for what role ratepayers see for the buildings themselves.”

Mr Reid said the council was focussed on ensuring good ‘whole-of-life costs’ for public buildings, and on partnering with the community and local businesses to find ways to better use its assets to provide high-quality services to local communities.

This was in line with Aucklanders’ desire to see an efficient and cost-effective council, with 72 per cent of respondents saying that sustainable and low operating costs for public buildings were a priority for them.

About the People’s Panel

The People’s Panel is used by Auckland Council to engage Aucklanders in decision-making. It was created in November 2010 and has now grown to over 20,000 Aucklanders, making it the largest online local government panel in the country.

The panel includes members from all local board areas, ages, and ethnic groups. Feedback from the panel makes a real difference, informing the way Auckland Councils makes decisions about the city and a plan for a better Auckland. Join the People’s Panel.

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