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Businesses dismayed at board’s canning of toilet plan

Flagstaff Team

Stymied plan… Three local-board members objected to a temporary block (similar to the illustration below) being sited on Potters Park

Frustrated Takapuna business people have called on the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board to rescind a decision that will leave a busy central location without public toilets for several years.

Children from the Potters Park playground opposite Shore City, bus drivers and passengers and Sunday market-goers are among those who use the toilets next to the park.

These are scheduled for demolition in September to allow town square development to proceed. A plan by Auckland Council property arm Eke Panuku to install temporary toilets at the edge of the park near the existing block was stymied at a testy meeting of the divided board last month.

Chair Ruth Jackson used her casting vote to deny landowner approval to Eke Panuku after extended debate, much of it challenging staff advice.

“We urge you to reconsider your decision at the next board meeting, and reverse the decision made,” the Takapuna Beach Business Association said in a subsequent letter to board members. The association – which represents 1000 businesses and property owners – said not having toilets in the area would negatively affect Takapuna for the next three to five years.

New permanent public toilets will be included in two of the square’s future buildings. Other toilets on lane leading from the Hurstmere Rd side of the square, behind shops, remain open.

Jackson and her fellow Heart of the Shore members on the board, Jan O’Connor and Trish Deans, maintain Eke Panuku is wasting public money demolishing toilets refurbished four or five years ago. They want the concrete block kept and worked around, although Eke Panuku explained its development contract with contractors required the toilets removal.

Putting temporary facilities somewhere other than Potter’s Park was not recommended, its report said. They would have to be moved during the square’s staged development.

The park site allowed easy connection to infrastructure and would be most convenient for current users, the report said.

The design chosen (similar to one at Lake Town Green in Hauraki) could be relocated when it was no longer needed.

Members Aidan Bennett, Toni van Tonder and George Wood favoured the proposal.

Bennett said it “beggared belief” that the matter was being debated. It had been long known the toilets would need to be demolished.

The opposing members had a history of objecting to things to do with Takapuna development, he said.

Wood said members were “splitting hairs” about the temporary toilet. “Let’s think of the future of Takapuna.”

Jackson said putting unisex toilets on the park would be in breach of the 1929 deed of gift of the land for the playground from Frederick Seymour Potter. This ruled out building anything on it other than a ladies restroom. Eke Panuku said it has taken legal advice that their provision was not incompatible with the reserve zoning.

Deans asked if any descendants of Potter or the trust that administers his civic donations had been contacted for their views. Told that they had not been located, she pointed out she had managed to do this easily and presented a response from a great-niece who lived in Devonport and said temporary toilets on a children’s playground were not suitable.

Wood said the opposing members were acting as “bush lawyers”.

Jackson said concerns about the deed had been flagged to Eke Panuku’s priority location director north, Kate Cumberpatch, several months ago. O’Connor claimed the members were not against toilets, but wanted more information. Eke Panuku should have talked to the board earlier, said Deans.

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