23 November 2016

Ponsonby Park

An infectious, community led initiative to reclaim a small part of Ponsonby Road gains momentum.


share

This is the story of a group of dedicated Ponsonby locals who are passionate about the suburb they live in. Their goal is to hold the local authority to their word, to listen to the community, and to provide a communal, whole of site open space, accessible by all.

Number 254 Ponsonby Road, or Nosh to us locals, is very handy. O’Neill St residents Jen Ward and Chris Bailey are regular shoppers there and couldn’t agree more. “But it will have to relocate,” says, Chris, bluntly. “No matter what eventually goes on this site, everything will be bowled over. Nosh would have probably gone already if it hadn’t been for our campaign,” adds, Jen.

A little bit of history.

Turn back the clock to 2000, when a survey commissioned by the then Auckland City Council found Ponsonby was not adequately serviced by open public spaces. In response the council looked at, and subsequently bought 254 Ponsonby Road with a view to developing part of it as a public space.

Fast forward to July 2013, when the draft Ponsonby Road Master Plan was released. At that point, the Waitemata Local Board revisited the use of the site, throwing the question back to the public and asking them what they wanted? This is when Jen and Chris got involved, almost singlehandedly raising a 1,200-signature petition that clearly said – don’t waste the site, intensification is already here, please use the whole site for a public space to support this intensification

“Because our petition raised so much interest, the board decoupled the site from the master plan, so that more investigation could be made into what to do with the space,” says, Chris. “Following another public consultation, 77% of the respondents said they wanted a whole of site open public space.”

Ponsonby Park proponents, Chris Bailey and Jen Ward, with Amanda Hyde de Kretser (centre) from Auckland University School of Architecture

Ponsonby Park proponents, Chris Bailey and Jen Ward, with Amanda Hyde de Kretser (centre) from Auckland University School of Architecture

Community led design

“Unfortunately, there was no money to develop the site, but there was very strong public feeling,” says, Jen. “They needed a cost neutral option to progress the desired outcome, so decided to trial a community led design process.

“We had the infectious vision,” says, Chris. “We could see what could be done, and we got enthusiastic about it. As soon as people understood the options, they got excited, too”.

“We provided the focus for those things to crystallise around,” adds, Jen. “Anything that happens within the community needs someone to nurture and look after it. It doesn’t happen by accident. It takes an incredible amount of time and determination and vision.”

They have spent two-and-a-half years, out on Ponsonby Road with homemade ginger beer and brownies, spreading the word, informing and questioning the public as to what could be possible for the space. They also started working with School of Architecture students from Auckland University who chose the site as their main project for the last semester of their third year of study. After twelve weeks, nine of the 23 students involved presented their work at a recent public consultation event, held at Boy & Bird restaurant on Ponsonby Road.

Public Support.

“The exhibition really encapsulated why the park needs to be here. There was such a buzz on the day,” says, Jen. “Consider this. When the Waitemata Board did their consideration for Myers Park, they got 43 submissions. When they did Grey Lynn Park, they got under 70. We got 110 at one single event.”

“We’re going to take the best of the student concept ideas, as chosen by the public, blend them with the strong feedback we have already received from our earlier community consultation, then distil, analyse, quantify and finally create a design brief,” she says. “We will then approach a number of professional landscape architecture firms to ask them to do some pro bono work, and develop this vision into a concept for the site.”

In February, they plan to take the designs from the landscape architects back to the public to make a final choice. “We’ll then present the results to the Waitemata Local Board, saying, here’s the design, here’s the price, please go and advocate for this on our behalf as you promised you’d do,” says, Chris.

“Although there’s no money in the kitty right now, they will be re-budgeting at this time next year, and our design will be in the mix. That’s why it’s important to show the groundswell of enthusiasm for the project.”

Hopeful Outcome?

“I imagine a space not unlike Wynyard Quarter… vibrant, urban, all-weather, and accessible for all people,” says, Chris. “Locals and visitors will know it’s here. They will see the space and be drawn to it”.

“Overall, it will be a magnificent open space, a community hub, with a full programme of events, from art installations to a regular authentic farmer’s market. And it will intensify the diverse and inclusive community flavour that Ponsonby is so proud of.”


share

Return to blog

More recent posts

12 July 2018

For the Love Of…


Anglican church, St Matthew-in-the-City opens its doors to all people. The word is spread, unbiased and with love, and its arches regularly ring with sounds of orchestral music.

More
5 July 2018

Enough is Enough!


It’s time to say no to plastic. It’s time for each and every one of us to take count of the unnecessary and avoidable plastic we use on a daily basis and do something about it. Need some enc…

More
28 June 2018

Shortage Underpins Stability


As the Auckland property market steers a more subdued course, gone are the heady days of astronomical leaps in housing values. But, what of the future in the light of policies designed to su…

More
14 June 2018

Romancing the Craft


Rose & Heather’s Martin Bell says setting up their furniture showroom and bespoke workshop in a combined Grey Lynn space, the only one of its sort in central Auckland, is “kind of like comin…

More
7 June 2018

Weird Makerspace


Want to donate your broken down household junk - a computer hard drive or sewing machine which doesn’t work anymore - to a good cause? Consider Tangleball. A community of down to earth creat…

More
31 May 2018

A Matter of Choice


Rattle is no ordinary recording label – it doesn’t do ordinary, or standard, or commercial, or anything else that might suggest mainstream. What it does do, is uphold a persistent presence w…

More
24 May 2018

Environmental Sea Change


After enduring years of the old Council’s long term neglect, Aucklanders have reached a tipping point. The environment has suddenly become mainstream.

More
3 May 2018

Loveable Rogues


Being a good Kiwi, Mark Neal considers it his birthright to challenge the norm – and this attitude has spurred him and two cohorts to establish Ponsonby-based artisan gin makers, Rogue Socie…

More
19 April 2018

A Hub for Good Food


End the week and start the weekend by savouring the tastes at Streetfood Station Food Truck Friday and Saturday mornings farmers market at Mt Albert Market.

More

Contact Us

Are you interested in knowing more about one of these articles? Please fill out the form below to get in contact with us.