The Albert Eden Local Board pushed forward with its anti sport campaign yesterday, voting to request staff to commence work to enable a single resource consent application to be lodged for the whole of the Board’s master plan to redevelop Chamberlain Park Golf Course.
The decision, unanimously supported by the 5 City Vision members of the 8 member Local Board, will see work commence immediately on a the resource consent application for all five stages of the master plan. The work is expected to take up to 18 months and cost around $1 million.
Chamberlain Park, the people's golf course, has been a public 18 hole course for 80 years and is the busiest 18-hole golf course in New Zealand. Golf is also the number one participation sport in Auckland and demand for the sport is expected to grow according to Council's own estimates.
If the AELB is successful it will see the golf course cut down to nine holes, denying its many users (as well as future generations) proper and fair access to what is a very popular sport. It also sets a very uneasy precedent as there are 10 golf courses in Auckland that are on Council land which theoretically could meet the same fate as Chamberlain Park.
The latest turn of events comes off the back of the Council (on behalf of the Local Board) being forced to surrender its resource consent for Stage 2 of the master plan in January this year which Council had granted on a non-notified basis – thereby denying the public a say in its plans. Save Chamberlain Park lodged a judicial review application of the non notification and the granting of the consent in December 2018. Council staff “concluded that successfully defending Council’s notification and consent decisions would be challenging.”
SCP chairman Geoff Senescall said that the group was disappointed that the Local Board had again chosen ignore a call for a meeting to discuss a way forward that would be beneficial to all Aucklanders. "In good faith we did not seek costs as we were entitled to after the consent was surrendered. In doing this we had hoped for the opportunity to talk with the Local Board about our alternative plans involving the creation of a predator-free ecology-friendly reserve sanctuary that also supported wider use. Instead of engagement the Local Board has simply put its head in the sand and barreled on with preparations for its $22m rate payer funded project."
"It beggars belief that a Local Board can simply ignore us in this way – especially when the course is so well patronised. We have around 15,000 signatures of golfers and non-golfers on a petition. What this process allows is for us to fully mobilise a campaign for change at the Local Board in the upcoming elections in October."
"On the bright side this latest process as outlined in a 30 page Council strategy paper will see the entire master plan costed and tested by the preparation of a business case which will require Governing Body approval to proceed. We certainly will be watching closely that this work is done properly. In particular we will be looking at assumptions around revenue currently generated from Chamberlain Park to that generated under the master plan. We will want capital costs to be included in that equation. We will also be very interested in the total costs – currently estimated at $22m. Another key focus will be the proposal to spend $15m on only two sports fields when Albert-Eden has sufficient sports fields and such funds could be used to upgrade the many sports facilities in the area."
"There is a lot of water to go under the bridge before this project gets to be anywhere near a reality – not least the upcoming Council election which will be a key test of public desire to priorities the expenditure of $22m plus of rate payer money."