Partial privatisation of Chamberlain could result from CityVision plan
Chamberlain Park could end up in private control as the Council seeks ways to fund CityVision’s $30,000,000 redevelopment plan for the 32ha inner city asset.
In a request for a proposal sent out to private consultants last week by Council the overview stated: “Commercial or partnership opportunities and options to reduce costs or increase revenue are also to be investigated as part of a detailed business case.” https://www.gets.govt.nz/AC/ExternalTenderDetails.htm?id=21648841
Save Chamberlain Park Inc said that seeking external funding from the private sector was the “thin end of the wedge” that could lead to partial privatisation for this iconic and well used asset that has been a public 18-hole golf course for 80 years. It was shocking that such an outcome might result from CityVision that purports to be a Labour Green alliance and who’s routes have traditionally supported the low income sector of the community. Chamberlain Park is a working class golf course.
Inviting proposals to externally fund or support redevelopment plans that includes cutting the golf course in half will almost certainly have financial implications for future users. Currently Chamberlain Park, one of only two public 18-hole golf courses servicing the entire Auckland region, is the home of the casual golfer and for those who cannot, or do not want to, afford to join a private club.
In the financial year ending 30 June 2019, Chamberlain Park recorded over 63,000 rounds of golf and made a cash surplus of $340,000. Chamberlain Park is one of the busiest golf courses in the country.
Under private control, commercial returns will need to be achieved and that will more than likely cut out many of the existing users of the park, for two reasons:
Once reduced to 9 holes, the course will be unable to sustain those numbers, but the private ownership model will require more profit
Due to extra waiting times the player numbers will reduce, and so the price will rise, but the value will be halved. The addition of a driving range will make up for a portion of this loss, but ultimately ‘golfing' numbers will most likely drop to an unaffordable level.
If a commercial operator fails to make a success of this it will expose the park to further development from future local boards who may feel that housing is a better use of the area than a nine hole golf course; thus reducing valuable open space in the Auckland isthmus.
It should also be noted that no other sports fields (apart from golf courses) in Auckland provide a return to Council, and neither are they expected to. Put another way golfers are effectively being asked to fund via their green fees to a commercial operator the other activities proposed under the masterplan at the park such as the two artificial turf sports fields that will soak up $16,000,000 of the proposed $30,000,000 redevelopment price tag.
Nowhere in the tender proposal is any consideration given to the environment with words used to determine the “financial” the “commercial” and the “management” cases. However, using the masterplan Save Chamberlain Park has counted more than 1,000 mature trees that will have to be removed to achieve what is being proposed resulting in a significant environmental impact on bird-life and their habitats. This Council declared a so-called Climate Emergency, so this destruction is
blatant hypocrisy. While young people around the world march for the environment the Auckland Council and CityVision effectively thumb their noses at them.
Save Chamberlain Park objected to an Indicative Business Plan that was tabled at a Governing Body of Council meeting in July this year. There is incorrect and misleading information in the report stating that golf numbers at Chamberlain Park are on the decline. This is blatantly untrue. Similarly, no reference was made to NZ Golf’s extensive research stating that golf numbers in NZ are increasing amongst all ages. To date, there have been no environmental or biodiversity studies, no consultation with Auckland Traffic, no cultural or heritage studies. In fact, there are no empirically based studies undertaken to support the masterplan. The economic case reveals a $26m benefit (over a 34-year period) against immediate costs of $29.7m. On financial grounds alone this redevelopment does not stack up.
In spite of this, the Albert Eden Councillor Cathy Casey (and CityVision leader) was able to convince fellow councillors (13 votes to 7) to proceed with the masterplan. Now around $1,000,000 is earmarked to be spent on justifying the redevelopment. Much of this outlay will end up as consultancy fees.
Save Chamberlain Park has tabled an alternative plan that can achieve all the proposed benefits of
the masterplan and more. The only thing the alternative plan does not provide for is the two sports fields and the recently included swimming pool complex that seems to be back on the table. Ends Geoff Senescall Chair of Save Chamberlain Park Inc 021481234
Here is a list of how councillors voted for Cathy Casey’s proposal at the Environment and Community Committee meeting in July 2019
Voted for $1m to be spent on a business plan J Bartley, R Blair, C Casey, B Cashmore, R Clow, L Cooper, C Darby, A Filipaina, R Hills, P Hulse, D Newman, J Walker, J Watson
Voted Against J Brown, C Fletcher, M Lee, G Sayers, S Stewart, W Walker, P Young Abstained D Simpson