Save Chamberlain Park Inc has today filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court at Auckland. The proceedings challenge decisions made by the Auckland Council and the Albert Eden Local Board in relation to Chamberlain Park and its continued use as an 18-hole public access golf course.
Save Chamberlain Park Inc was formed by a group of concerned Aucklanders who have been unhappy for some time about the decision making that has been happening over Chamberlain Park.
Chamberlain Park was developed as an 18-hole full-length golf course in the mid 1930’s, and has been open for play since 1939. It is named after Neville Chamberlain. In the mid 1970’s some of the land it utilised was taken for Auckland’s North Western Motorway. The then Auckland City Council purchased more land on the Western side of the motorway development to maintain the 18-hole configuration of the course.
A variety of Council and private operators have run Chamberlain Park over time. Since mid 2013 the course has been operated by Auckland City Parks, who have done a fine job of bringing the golf course up to standard again. The golf course is one of the highest utilised in Auckland with well over 50,000 rounds of golf played there each year. People from all over Auckland play golf at Chamberlain Park, and the course is loved by many as the club of the “working class”.
In the local government re-organisation of Auckland Chamberlain Park decision making in relation to Chamberlain Park was allocated to the Albert Eden Local Board.
Since early 2014, the Local Board has been looking at how it might change the use of Chamberlain Park to cut the golf course in half to a nine-hole configuration, in pursuit of a Masterplan development.
The judicial review proceeding that the group has filed challenges both the allocation of decision making by Auckland Council to the Local Board, as well as the steps the Local Board has taken in advancing its plans by way of the consultation they have purported to engage in with stakeholders. The proceedings were filed by Auckland barristers Julian Long and Doug Cowan
Julian Long and the chairperson of Save Chamberlain Park Inc jointly commented: “Many Aucklanders might be wondering why the fate of a large regional sporting facility might be in the hands of a Local Board. Save Chamberlain Park Inc is wondering this too. Despite its history, where its users come from, and it being one of only two public 18-hole golf courses in Auckland, Auckland Council decided that the Albert Eden Local Board should be the one to decide how the land is used. Does it surprise you to learn that there are no regional sporting facilities in Auckland under the Long Term Plan? There is no recognition of regional assets like Chamberlain Park in the allocation of responsibilities between Auckland Council and its local boards.
“So Chamberlain Park is being treated like a small local reserve of consequence only to the residents of the Albert Eden Local Board area. The proceedings say that this is wrong. Chamberlain Park is a regional asset and decisions about it should be made by the Auckland Council itself.
“Fundamental to a decision making process that involves something of Auckland wide importance is the need to involve people who might be effected by that decision in the decision making process. In this case, even if the Albert Eden Local Board was rightly given the power to decide the fate of Chamberlain Park then they were obliged to collaborate and co-operate with other Local Boards about that decision.
“But Auckland does not seem to work that way. Local Boards are in some sort of great contest against each other to compete for the facilities they each dream of having in their own areas.
“We need public golf courses in Auckland. We have two 18-hole public golf courses right now. You’d think a decision to halve the capacity of one of them would be something a Local Board might speak to others about. So much for any regional strategy for golf courses. That work is actually happening as well but its just not something that the Albert Eden Local Board is paying any attention to as they do their own “local thing” with one of Auckland’s regional assets.
“Finally, fundamental to any sort of decision making process is also the principle that a decision maker should have an open mind and not predetermine something. The proceedings allege that this did not happen with the decision to change from the status quo at Chamberlain Park.
“The question “should we change the status quo?” has never been considered in any Local Board consultation process, but was made in private in early 2014 when the Local Board asked council officials to prepare their “starting point”. That “starting point” was a Chamberlain Park with only 9 holes. What has happened is a bit like having the NZ flag referendum but with the options people are asked to choose from not include the present flag.”
For further comment please contact:
Chairperson of Save Chamberlain Park Inc