Battle of Baxter St continues

August 2021: The battle to save Warkworth’s Baxter Street carpark is continuing, with protracted behind the scenes efforts to stop it being sold by Auckland Council, as well as new ideas for how it could be used in future.

The 116-space free parking area above the New World carpark has long been slated for sale by Council’s property arm, Eke Panuku, and it was due to come before the finance and performance committee in April. However, Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers has been fighting to have the item further deferred in a continued effort to convince Council that the carpark should not be sold.

He says that as well as its worth as a valuable local asset, there are legal and practical reasons why it should not be sold. Cr Sayers says the Council-owned site has potentially restrictive easements and encumbrances that could make it unattractive to would-be buyers, not least the fact it has a complex title structure, being part-owned by three other entities – the National Trading Company of NZ (Foodstuffs), Westpac Banking and the Rodney Lodge of Freemasons.

Approval from these adjoining landowners would be required before Council could put the carpark on the market, which Cr Sayers is hoping will not happen.

“I’ve also submitted a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request, on behalf of the residents of the Mahurangi, to gain a copy of the original building consent design drawings, in order to have an independent engineer peer review them, to potentially challenge Panuku’s statements about the carpark’s structural strength,” he says.

Recent Council estimates put the cost of repairs to fix the carpark surface and make the structure water-tight at $1.7 million.

In March, Rodney Local Board criticised Council for failing to maintain and manage the carpark and voted against approving its sale, instead saying it wanted it transferred to Council’s list of community facilities and managed as a Local Board asset. (MM, Mar 31)

If that should happen, the carpark could cease to be an all-day parking facility, in a bid to free-up space for shoppers by forcing all-day commuters and business people to find alternative parks.