Wellington City Council's property deals in spotlight again over pocket park
Source: https://www.stuff.co.nz/news/113407966/-

2019-06-11 07:56:39

Wellington City Council's property deals have come under the spotlight again during a debate over the removal of a pocket park.

In recent months  the council has said it will need to embrace strategic partnerships rather than competitive tenders on projects and that details of $1 deals the council struck for prime CBD and waterfront land would remain suppressed for hundreds of years.

Council employees hit back at councillors who asked questions around why details around the latest deal, which will see the council receive money from developer Willis Bond if it removes an encumbrance on an inner city pocket park on Dixon St, were being kept secret.

Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons asked: "Why is it commercially sensitive how much the council will receive on this? There's going to be only one person, one owner."

The status of the park was debated at a City Strategy Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Committee chairwoman Iona Pannett asked council officers: "Why can't we be transparent?"

Details of the Dixon St deal and the amount of money involved are being withheld from the public.

John Vriens, a senior property advisor at WCC, said revealing details would let commercial operators see how council negotiations were carried out, which could harm future talks.

A valuation principle dictated in most cases the adjoining land owner would pay the best price, he said.

Vriens said releasing information on the deal would allow other commercial operators to "see how we do these things".

"That process of negotiation is not something we want to compromise ourselves in when we get into other similar commercial bargaining situations, that's why it's commercially sensitive."

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