Archive | Land use

Local board identifies 10 city fringe economic actions to prioritise

The Waitemata Local Board will vote on Tuesday on a refreshed local economic development action plan for the city fringe, which has identified 18 actions, 10 of them prioritised.

The board approved its first such plan in 2014 and the replacement is intended to provide a framework to guide local economic development actions for 3-5 years.

Auckland Council local economic development strategic planner John Norman says in a report to Tuesday’s local board meeting the local economic development team at Ateed (Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development) commissioned Business Lab to undertake the refresh on behalf of the local board.

“The refreshed plan has concentrated on the role that the local board can play in assisting & supporting economic growth within the city fringe. The actions are identified against the desired outcomes of the adopted Waitemata Local Board plan – namely thriving communities, placemaking, the natural environment, built environment, accessibility & strong economy.

The board has identified 10 actions as priorities:

  1. Enable a city fringe identity
  2. Lead space activation
  3. Advocate for local area plans
  4. Advocate for a Parnell precinct plan
  5. Advocate for a low carbon economy
  6. Advocate for minimisation of disruption
  7. Enable connectivity to Parnell train station
  8. Enable improved relationships with Auckland Transport
  9. Enable business intelligence, and
  10. Enable greater business support.

Mr Norman said that, once the refreshed plan is approved, Ateed staff would work with the board to agree which of the priority initiatives should be activated first and what budget would be required to deliver them.

Links:
Waitemata Local Board agenda, Tuesday 21 November
20, Auckland’s city fringe local economic development action plan refresh
Final draft action plan

Attribution: Local board agenda.

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Unlock Avondale project gets go-ahead, Takapuna carpark decision deferred

Auckland Council’s planning committee approved the over-arching plan for regeneration of Avondale yesterday.

The Unlock Avondale high level project plan will be delivered by the city’s urban regeneration agency, Panuku Development Auckland.

Whau Local Board chair Tracy Mulholland said the plan built on work completed by the local board & community groups: “It will drive momentum for change in the area, with a focus on the town centre. The regeneration of Avondale will see current & future residents enjoying new open spaces and a purpose-built community facility, including a new library that will serve its needs.”

Ward councillor Ross Clow said the regeneration of Avondale was long overdue: “This plan is important to drive the development of quality residential neighbourhoods and to help meet Auckland’s growing demand for affordable homes. It will also address the issues arising from population growth in Avondale & the wider area.”

And Panuku chief operating officer David Rankin said a number of key moves would enable the vision for Avondale: “Panuku will work closely with the local board & community to implement a retail strategy that attracts new businesses, increasing diversity of products & services.
“The train station, upgraded bus network & new cycleways offer great transport options, and we will continue to strengthen connections between these activity hubs & the town.

“A focus for the regeneration of Avondale is working with developers to build quality residential neighbourhoods that offer a mix of housing types, including terraces & apartments. A number of significant developments are already underway in the area.”

Ockham Residential is due to complete the construction of 72 new one- to 3-bedroom apartments at 24-26 Racecourse Parade in March 2018. Through a partnership with the NZ Housing Foundation, 33 new homes are near completion on Trent St, including 21 affordable homes.

Takapuna carpark decision deferred

In other business yesterday, the council committee deferred its decision on a hearing panel recommendation to change the use of the carpark at 40 Anzac St, Takapuna, to one that enables a mix of uses.

The deferral is to allow Panuku to consult further with the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board on how this process can be progressed. It will report back to the planning committee by next March.

Attribution: Council release.

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First value-for-money reviews point to $373 million of council savings

Auckland Council’s finance & performance committee will vote next Monday on the first recommendations from an assessment of whether it’s getting value for money from its various arms, including council-controlled organisations.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff.

Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the findings of the first group of reviews yesterday: “The reviews have identified potential savings of up to $373 million over 10 years. I expect the realised savings to be reinvested in vital services & infrastructure for Auckland.

“I instigated these reviews because elected representatives on council have an obligation to ensure that what we do is effective & efficient, and provides Auckland residents with the best value for the money they invest in us.

“With unprecedented population growth, Auckland has a massive need for investment in services & infrastructure to keep pace with this growth. Money is a scare resource and we need to make sure that we are getting the best return from what we spend.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s first council to review comprehensively & in depth the value for money in what it does. This is a legislative requirement under section 17a of the Local Government Act.

“The reviews are the culmination of months of work by council professional staff, with input from external experts in the areas under review and overseen by an independent reference panel.”

The reviews note that the council has already delivered efficiency savings for Aucklanders. However, they also noted that further integration of functions, shared procurement & services, clear performance measurement and better strategic & operational co-ordination could lower operational & capital expenditure considerably and improve services.

3 waters

The report notes that, through amalgamation, Auckland Council’s water services have delivered benefits to Auckland ratepayers saving hundreds of millions of dollars. However, Mr Goff said more could be done: “There is potentially $300 million in savings to be achieved through further integration, joint procurement & capital planning across the council’s 3 water services.

“$13 million of those savings could be realised immediately by combining operations & maintenance of our water & stormwater services, which I support.”

Communications & engagement

Mr Goff said it was to him during the mayoral campaign that there were issues with the structure of communications across the council group and the review clearly supported that: “I support a cut of at least 15% to the operating budget of communications & engagement over the next 3 years, and joint procurement between council & CCOs that in total represents potential savings of $54.5 million over 10 years.

“I cannot predetermine the outcome of next week’s committee, but I expect work will begin quickly across council & CCO communications functions to cut costs, improve co-ordination and to develop a group-wide strategy to address low levels of trust in the council.”

Waste

The reviews note that the council’s waste service has saved $165 million in operating costs since amalgamation and has a clear plan to reduce domestic waste, which the report said was working.

However, the report also concluded that the council’s waste service would “benefit from a broader business case methodology, and will also need to assess a shift of focus from residential to commercial & industrial waste, which accounts for 86% of all waste in Auckland.

“The environment & community committee will examine these recommendations, and it & professional staff will report back on changes which need to be made,” Mr Goff said.

International investment attraction & global partnerships

The review of council & CCO investment attraction & global partnerships found the functions were well organised & aligned, and business processes accorded with best practice. It recommends exploring a fee-for-service as a way to offset costs where direct personal benefits from the council’s activities can be identified.

The 4 reviews are the first tranche of a systematic value-for-money review process across the entire council group that will examine all ratepayer-funded functions & services during this term of council.

The second group of reviews is underway and includes the council’s group procurement and parks & open spaces. They’re due for completion early next year.

Links:
Auckland Council, finance & performance committee agenda Monday 6 November:
9, Value for money section 17A review programme
Attachments
Three waters terms of reference
Three waters value for money (s17A) review report 2017
Domestic waste terms of reference
Domestic waste value for money (s17A) review report 2017
Communications & engagement terms of reference
Communications & engagement value for money (s17A) review report 2017
Investment attraction & global partnerships terms of reference
Investment attraction & global partnerships value for money (s17A) review report 2017

Attribution: Mayoral release, agenda.

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New home consents jammed in 1000/year range

Consents for new homes, which fell one dwelling short of 30,000/year 12 months ago, remained jammed in the 30-31,000/year range in September.

The 2770 consents for the month were up 6% on a year ago, and the 30,892 consents for the year were up 3% on the previous 12 months.

Values, on the other hand, were well ahead – up 14.2% for the month, 8.6% for the year. (Total consent values don’t work out neatly to price/dwelling because of the way consents for large staged projects are handled, but have been running well above rises in consent numbers, an indication at least that housing costs have been rising well beyond official inflation figures.)

Statistics NZ said today it had reviewed how it deals with seasonal adjustment – highlighted by the problem of trying to compare March & April figures when Easter habitually wanders from one month to the other, but affecting other times of the year as well. The issue of staging, especially large apartment projects, is probably a bigger factor.

The result of the revision for August was a cut in seasonally adjusted numbers from 10% to 5.9%. On that basis, I’ll stick to actuals. Click the link below to check that story.

Standalone homes’ share of the market fell 6 percentage points from a year ago to be dead on two-thirds of new consents, and fell by 2.4% annually. The number of standalones consented fell by 49 for the month, 109 for the year.

The less visible sign of intensification, suburban townhouses & flats, has grown to 15% of the market, but the more visible apartment sector has been more volatile, heavily dependent for years on offshore investors to get projects started.

Many of the newest apartment developments are smaller than the big-block central area highrises, coming in under 50 units and more easily bankable as the smallest units in them are no longer in the “shoebox” category.

Apartment consents were up over 53% for the month & 22% for the year. Their share of the new-home market jumped to 10.2% for the year & 15% for the latest month.

The national consent numbers for September and the year to September, compared to September last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:

Total consents for new homes: 2770 (2614), up 6%; 30,892 (29,999), up 3%
Total values for new homes:  $1.21 billion ($1.06 billion), up 14.2%; $13.27 billion ($12.22 billion), up 8.6%
Standalone homes: 1843 (1892), down 2.6%; 21,190 (21,299), down 0.5%
Apartments: 415 (270), up 53.7%; 3152 (2570), up 22.6%
Retirement village units: 85 (59), up 44.1%; 1856 (2037), down 8.9%
Suburban townhouses & flats: 427 (393), up 8.7%; 4694 (4093), up 14.7%
Standalone share of consents: 66.5% (72.4%), 68.6% (71%)
Apartments share of consents: 15% (10.3%), 10.2% (8.6%)
Suburban townhouses & flats share of consents: 15.4% (15%), 15.2% (13.6%)

Consents for new homes in the Auckland region rose 6.4% this September compared to last, and 3.6% for the year.

Auckland residential consents for August, compared to August last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:

Region: 868 (816, revised up from 752), 10,317 (9960)
Rodney: 58 (64), 1018 (931)
Albany: 183 (270, revised up from 206), 2449 (2300)
North Shore: 37 (110), 427 (609)
Waitakere: 81(47), 578 (601)
Waitemata & Gulf: 192 (33), 1130 (1061)
Whau: 11 (14), 293 (307)
Albert-Eden-Roskill: 18 (15), 801 (625)
Orakei: 13 (15), 246 (357)
Maungakiekie-Tamaki: 54 (20), 635 (351)
Howick: 48 (32), 410 (588)
Manukau: 27 (29), 430 (411)
Manurewa-Papakura: 87 (91), 948 (1015)
Franklin: 59 (76), 952 (804)

The regions consenting the most new homes in the September 2017 year were:

Auckland: 10,317 (up 2.9% from a revised figure for the September 2016 year, up 3.6% on the original)
Canterbury: 5122 (down 18% as the post-quake rebuild continues to wind down, but still at a historically high level)
Waikato: 3596 (up 1.7%)
Bay of Plenty: 2596 (up 4.8%).

Non-residential building consents constituted 31.9% of the total market in September, down from 32.4% for the previous 12 months, and 30.4% for September, down from 31.9% a year earlier.

All construction for September compared to September last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:
Total: $1.799 billion ($1.598 billion), up 12.5%; $20.1 billion ($18.71 billion), up 7.5%
Non-residential: $546 million ($509 million), up 7.4%; $6.413 billion ($6.053 billion), up 5.9%.

Related stories:
Today: 10% becomes 5.9%, just like that
2 October 2017: Monthly building consents up on a few spikes, annual growth sluggish

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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10% becomes 5.9%, just like that

This little snippet at the foot of today’s building consents release from Statistics NZ shows how kind I was to readers and to statisticians by declining to use seasonally adjusted figures many years ago.

In a note to today’s release, Statistics NZ said: “We have improved the way we calculate the seasonally adjusted number of new homes consented. We now include an adjustment for the timing of Easter. As a result, the seasonally adjusted increase in the number of new homes consented in August 2017 has been revised down from 10% to 5.9%.”

For its latest seasonal adjustment calculations, Statistics NZ said: “The seasonally adjusted number of new dwellings consented fell 2.3%, following a 5.9% rise in August. For houses only, the seasonally adjusted number fell 1.7%, following a 3.1% fall in August.

“The trend for the number of new dwellings consented increased, and is at its highest level since early 2004.”

I haven’t gone back to Statistics NZ to ask what Easter has to do with August. Such a large revision – what looks like an admission of a 41% miscalculation, and lacking a real, credible explanation – will keep me wary of these adjustments for some time yet.

In these columns, you’ll continue to get comparisons from year to year, one month against the same month. Or, as I noted in May 2008, my solution when I quoted then-Government Statistician Geoff Bascand, showing the difficulty Statistics NZ had with seasonal adjustments: “The earlier occurrence of the Easter holidays in March, rather than April, may have contributed to this increase, although the exact effect is difficult to measure.”

My solution was to lump the 2 months together, March + April, when comparing hotel occupancy, for example.

But the changes are refreshing

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson warned of this month’s change in the September release on building consents, under the heading Upcoming changes to seasonally adjusted & trend series. I’ve repeated her message below:

“We are improving the way we calculate the seasonally adjusted & trend series in building consents issued. These changes will be introduced in the September 2017 release (published on 31 October 2017).

“All seasonally adjusted series will now include an adjustment for the timing of Easter. This will account for when Easter moves between March & April. This change will affect the entire time series.

“We are also updating the way we treat outliers in the trend for the value of non-residential building consents. Currently, we exclude consents with a value of $50 million or more from the calculation of the trend. This threshold will be increased to $100 million, backdated to 2006. Currently, these outliers are only excluded from the monthly trend. For consistency, we will now also exclude these outliers from the quarterly trend.”

Despite my scepticism about some calculations, I’m enjoying the changes emanating under new leadership at Statistics NZ. They’re aimed at giving more people better information that they can use – a worthy cause.

Link:
Statistics NZ: Building consents issued seasonal adjustment and trend changes in September 2017

Related story today: New home consents jammed in 1000/year range

Earlier stories:
2 October 2017: A new understanding of seasonal adjustment
13 May 2008: Campers lift March accommodation use, but hotel & motel occupancy down
1 February 2008: Statistics, lies & don’t knows
2 September 2006: Pick an apple, an orange and you can concoct statistical fruitcake
13 May 2006: Late Easter takes March occupancy down
8 May 2006: Don’t believe everything you read…

Attribution: Statistics NZ release.

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Judge overturns year-old highrise consent next to heritage substation because of non-notification

High Court judge Rebecca Ellis has set aside a year-old resource consent for a 10-storey 39.5m building Equinox Capital Ltd proposes to build in central Wellington because the owners of a 2-storey heritage-listed former substation next door weren’t notified.

In her decision issued last Wednesday, Justice Ellis wrote: “In summary, I consider: (a) Sydney St Substation Ltd should have been given limited notification of Equinox’s resource consent application; (b) there was a material error in the 14 October 2016 decision not to publicly notify Equinox’s resource consent application; and (c) there were material errors in the 14 October 2016 decision granting Equinox’s resource consent application.

“There have been no matters raised which persuade me I should not exercise my discretion to grant relief here. I therefore make orders setting aside the notification decisions & the substantive resource consent decision, all of which are dated 14 October 2016.”

The dispute concerns buildings (heritage & proposed) a few doors from the courthouse, on what was Sydney St until 1993 and is now Kate Sheppard Place in Thorndon, a street noted for its “Elizabethan & Jacobean” architecture.

The category II heritage building is the old Sydney St substation at 19 Kate Sheppard Place, which has historical significance as one of the first substations constructed to distribute electricity in Wellington after the Mangahao hydro power station began operation in 1924.

Justice Ellis said it also had “some architectural significance due to what has been described as its ‘quirky mixture of architectural styles’”.

The lower of its 2 storeys originally housed the transformers & other substation equipment. The upper level has always been a home. “That unusual & experimental combination of utilitarian & residential design is regarded as adding to its architectural interest. A heritage covenant was placed on the building in 2011.”

In 2013 the Government sold the substation building to Sydney St Substation Ltd, owned by Trevor & Jillian Lord. They renovated & strengthened the building to some acclaim, with the assistance of a Wellington City Council grant. The entirety of the building is now used for residential purposes.

Justice Ellis concluded: “There can be no real doubt that the substation’s heritage value was highly influential in the decision to purchase it, and to renovate it at some expense. To suggest that an adverse effect on the substation’s heritage value does not, equally, adversely affect its owner seems unattractive. So if there is a minor adverse effect on the heritage value of the building there is a minor adverse effect on Sydney St Substation Ltd.

“Even if there is some flaw in that logic, there remains the further & more substantive (“anticipated development model”) issue. The views I have expressed about that strongly support the conclusion that the adverse effects on the owner of the substation (in terms of the matters of which discretion is restricted under rule 13.3.4, namely design, external appearance, siting & placement of building mass) have been understated and are at least minor.

“On any of the above analyses, therefore, Sydney St Substation Ltd was an affected person and should have received limited notification of Equinox’s resource consent application.”

In contrast with the judge’s view, the council notification said: “There are no affected persons in respect of this application (sections 95B/95E). It is noted that neighbours have registered an interest in works occurring on the subject site. Neighbour interest does not deem them to be affected parties under the tests of the act or qualify as special circumstances under the act in this case.”

The judge said most other buildings in the vicinity were multi-level office blocks “of limited street appeal”. The Lords sought judicial review of Wellington City Council’s approval of resource consent “authorising the construction of another such building immediately adjacent to the substation, on a site which is presently a carpark. In short, Sydney St Substation Ltd says that the council was wrong to grant the consent and also wrong to even consider it on a non-notified basis. They say that the substation will be significantly adversely affected by the proposed construction.”

Equinox (Chong Du Cheng & Kerry Knight) has plans for 63 apartments, a 39-room hotel with ground-floor lobby and ground-floor commercial space with a total floor area of 32,422m².

An important factor in the judge’s consideration was that the proposed building would exceed the height limit of 35.4m in the “low city” area, set out in the district plan.

According to the district plan guidelines, “Where a new development adjoins a heritage building that is 4 storeys or less, its height should be not more than one storey above the heritage building, over an area extending approximately 5-8m along & back from the street frontage at the common boundary with the heritage building”.

Link: Substation judgment

Attribution: Judgment.

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Council counts over $100 million/year in procurement gains

Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore says Auckland Council achieved $106.1 million in procurement benefits in the last financial year.

Cllr Cashmore, who chairs the strategic procurement committee, said on Thursday the council was a significant purchaser of goods & services and had started to deliver impressive results from process improvements.

“It’s an area where we are doing more to both save money & deliver sustainable benefits within our community. We’re doing this by teaming up with council-controlled organisations when we go to the market, reducing our costs in areas such as recruitment & software maintenance and through new technology that delivers greater efficiency.

“Last financial year, $29.5 million of additional value/year for the next 5 years was generated through our new maintenance contracts. 88% more trees will be pruned annually and significantly more weed control delivered across the region.”

Cllr Cashmore benefits included “sustainable procurement”, which meant leveraging off purchasing arrangements to deliver tangible social, economic & environmental benefits. One example is the Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek) project, which saw the regeneration of one of Auckland’s longest urban streams, flowing from Hillsborough through Mt Roskill, Owairaka & Waterview to the Waitemata Harbour. The project also saw 17 young Aucklanders recruited into training.

“Our procurement approach is maturing and it’s great to see these results being delivered for our communities & ratepayers. There is a lot of potential for the council to use its purchasing power wisely and deliver broader benefits to our communities. We will continue to build on these benefits.”

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara election dates set

Kaipara’s election to replace mayor Greg Gent will take place from Friday 26 January to midday on Saturday 17 February, which means the postal vote will close on the first day the election can be held.

Mr Gent, elected last October when an elected district council resumed control after 4 years of management by Government-appointed commissioners, announced on Monday he’d resign in November.

The council said today Mr Gent’s resignation would take effect on 15 November, 5 days before summer election rules come into play.

“Under the Local Electoral Act, where a vacancy occurs before 20 November 2017 the by-election cannot occur before Saturday 17 February 2018. Under this scenario, nominations would open Friday 24 November and close at midday Friday 22 December. The voting period would be from Friday 26 January through to midday on Saturday 17 February, conducted by postal vote.

“The public notice of the result would be Wednesday 21 February  and the newly elected mayor could take office at that time. The estimated cost for the by-election is $38,000. The bulk of this cost is for the production & distribution of the mailer & voting document.

“If the newly elected mayor was an existing councillor then they would have to resign the councillor role and this would trigger an additional vacancy & by-election. The cost of this is likely to be around $20,000.”

Related story today: Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent.

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent announced on Monday he intended to resign after the council meeting on Tuesday 14 November – 13 months after an elected council took over from Government-appointed commissioners.

He said he’d decided to resign due to unspecified personal reasons. His resignation will mean a by-election is required, but it can’t be held until February.

The Kaipara District Council said deputy mayor Peter Wethey would assume all the responsibilities of the mayor from Mr Gent’s departure until the by-election.

Mr Gent, a Ruawai dairy farmer with substantial business & corporate governance interests, was a director of New Zealand’s largest co-operative business, Fonterra from 2001-11 and chaired Northland Dairy Ltd & Kiwi Co-op Dairies Ltd before Fonterra was formed. He still chairs Dairy Holdings Ltd, has chaired the Southern Cross Health Trust since 2014, is a director of NZ Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd and was a member of the Northland District Health Board from 2010-15. He was independent chair of Pengxin NZ Farm Management Ltd from 2013-October 2016, and resigned as a director of FMG Insurance Ltd on 17 August. He was made an officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2012.

Mr Gent chaired the 3-member review team that led to councillors resigning in 2012, when the commissioners took over, and said in a pre-election statement: “That gave me a unique insight into council, particularly around the systemic failure of governance. I do not want us to slip back into the hole that we have spent the last 4 years climbing out of.”

He also said at that time: “The role of mayor will require me to reduce my current portfolio, which I am prepared to do.”

He gave up one board seat at election time and one since.

Mr Gent was not surprisingly criticised by the Mangawhai Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association & its chair, Bruce Rogan, for his role in the appointment of the commissioners, who opposed every attempt by the association for redress over the imposition of rates to pay for the Mangawhai Ecocare sewerage system after its cost blowout was exposed. The district council secretly borrowed $58 million for its capital cost and Parliament passed a Validation Act as the association was heading to court for a judicial review.

Mr Rogan stood unsuccessfully against Mr Gent for the mayoralty last year.

Attribution: Council release.

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Statistics House demolition confirmed

CentrePort Ltd confirmed yesterday that Statistics House in Wellington would be demolished because of damage sustained in last November’s Kaikoura earthquake, now that insurers have decided the building is not economically viable to repair.

CentrePort will apply to Wellington City Council for consents to safely demolish the 5-storey office block. Chief executive Derek Nind said: “We’re pleased to have final certainty on the matter and will start planning for the building’s removal, working with our tenants, neighbours & other key stakeholders for its safe demolition.”

CentrePort is still working with its engineers & insurers on the status of the BNZ building.

Government Statistician & Statistics NZ chief executive Liz MacPherson welcomed an end to the uncertainty: “This announcement by CentrePort means we can draw a line under our past connection with Statistics House. Stats NZ staff have been progressively moving on, both physically & mentally, from Statistics House after the quake 11 months ago.

“We will be forever thankful that the quake happened just after midnight last November when nobody was in the building, rather than at midday during the work week.”

She said Statistics NZ was fully insured and was still working with insurers to determine a settlement. Staff have occupied other buildings in central Wellington since late 2016 and have leases in place for at least another year.

The Government Property Group is looking more broadly at accommodation for Wellington-based agencies, including Statistics NZ.

Attribution: CentrePort & Statistics NZ releases.

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