Devonport Borough Council Building

About the Devonport Borough Council Building

Borough Council Building

Our offices are located in the historic Devonport Borough Council Building at 3 Victoria Road, Devonport - Devonport Area Office & Former Visitor Information Centre

Brief Historical Background

As an infill between the Esplanade Hotel to its west and 5-19 Victoria Road, the building is believed to date originally from around 1910 or with an even earlier core, although it has since been modified externally several times. Other changes that were made to convert the former post office into the Devonport Borough Council offices also incorporated the name of the new occupant, in recessed letters set into the new render. A flagpole was also added being a typical feature of the period of its remodeling. The second phase of significant change to the street frontage occurred with the addition of a disabled ramp to serve the door, and a conspicuous glazed canopy which extended the full length of frontage. This projected out to the same extent as its neighbors to the northeast along Victoria Road.

Historical Context: Local Government in Devonport

The Flagstaff District Highway Board, formed in 1866, was the first true local government elected by citizens. The board’s initial tasks were to form roads and provide drainage. In 1876 the Board also took on the duties of a Board of Health. The Flagstaff District Highway Board opened the first library in the Auckland Provincial District in 1878, and achieved another milestone in 1882 with the installation of gas street lighting. The formation of Devonport Borough in 1886 was the result of an increase in population and reflected the growing importance of Devonport as a military, naval and commercial centre on the North Shore. As early as 1927 Devonport Borough Council resisted attempts at a forced amalgamation with the four other boroughs on the North Shore. It also resisted joining schemes for sharing electricity and water supply. Devonport residents believed that their interests in both social and commercial development were with Auckland City and not with the more rural boroughs of Northcote, Birkenhead and Takapuna. It was as much a suburb of Auckland City as Mt Eden or Remuera. Further amalgamation proposals were resisted in 1958 and again in 1967. The opening of the Harbour Bridge in 1959 affected Devonport immensely. Development and population moved north to the „bays‟, the suburb began to decline, and the Council considered various schemes in the 1960s to bring people and tourism to the Borough.

In 1968 Council approached Fletcher Holdings to undertake a feasibility study for a marina in Ngataringa Bay. The resulting proposal was approved by the Auckland Harbour Board and supported by the Auckland Regional Authority in 1969. The development was to reclaim 24 acres and provide berthing for yachts and launches. The Ngataringa Bay Protection Society was formed and successfully fought the proposal. In 1971 fierce public opposition voted out the „old guard‟ on Council, and the decision was reversed by the incoming Council. The subsequent compensation paid by Council to the developer raised Devonport’s rates for many years. Opposition to local government reform and the amalgamation of North Shore’s five Boroughs in 1988 was also opposed strongly, and Independent Devonport waged a long campaign against the legislation, even taking the matter to court. The cause was lost and North Shore City was formed in 1989. Devonport Borough Council was the first to lay asphalt footpaths, lay concrete roads, give the vote to women, open all its meetings to the public, employ women on the staff, declare itself nuclear free, take positive steps to reduce the use of toxic spray, introduce a public forum at the beginning of all meetings, become a corporate member of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, and to establish a comprehensive recycling scheme. Devonport was represented on the new North Shore City Council by two councillors and by the Devonport Community Board.

Local body reform has continued and following a 2009 Royal Commission on Auckland governance, seven existing city and district councils and the Auckland Regional Council were abolished to form a single new unitary authority, the Auckland Council.