An incorporated group called Save Chamberlain Park Inc has been established as part of a campaign to stop the costly and senseless redevelopment of Chamberlain Park Golf Course.
Save Chamberlain Park Inc is now looking to raise money from its many supporters through a GiveaLittle campaign to establish a fighting fund to legally challenge what is believed to be a flawed process by the Albert Eden Local Board to spend $30m of rate payer money on turning this iconic Auckland asset from a well used 18-hole course to a 9-hole facility servicing a much smaller number of people.
A petition to “Stop the Chop” at Chamberlain Park now has more than 5,000 signatures and growing. There is widespread support for this campaign both from within the Albert-Eden ward and beyond. Set up under a Labour-led get-back-to-work scheme in 1939, Chamberlain Park continues to play an important part in providing public access to a sport that is enjoyed by young and old.
Chamberlain Park is one of only two public courses in Auckland and frequented by those who either cannot afford or do not want to pay to join a private golf course. The Albert-Eden Local Board’s actions to chop the course in half will impact many in the Auckland wide community – not least minority interests who have few alternative options when it comes to playing golf. It is somewhat ironic that championing this expensive and unnecessary change at this largely working class golf course is the City Vision led Albert-Eden Local Board (through a 3 to 4 vote with one abstaining because they turned up late).
Moreover, for those sitting in Council it is short-sighted to allow this travesty to take place. Golf has the highest participation rates of any sport in Auckland. According to statistics compiled by NZ Golf demand for golf is expected to increase over the next 15 years. Once Chamberlain Park has been chopped it will be lost forever.
Should you want to support this campaign please go to: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/savechamberlainpark
Visit our website: www.savecpark.org
Chairperson of Save Chamberlain Park Incorporated
Q. What basis are you taking legal action?
A. We will be bringing a judicial review proceeding. The basic tenets of our case will revolve around:
• the outcome of the AELB’s review being predetermined (the status quo was not considered) and there has been a lack of consultation
• Chamberlain Park is a Regional Asset not a Local Asset and thus should not be carved up as a result of a 3 to 4 vote (with one abstaining because they turned up late) at a local board meeting.
• The errors of fact that exist in the case that has been put to carve up the park. These are outlined below.
Q. Do you have a legal team?
A. Yes we have two experienced barristers activity working on bringing a case – Julian Long and Doug Cowan
Q. Why do you need funds?
A. Whilst Julian and Doug are generously donating a good amount of their time there are significant costs in taking a legal case against a public body which has access to significant resources – albeit courtesy of the rate payers in this case.
Q. When do you think you will be ready to bring your case?
A. We are hopeful to be ready in a month.
1. The Albert-Eden Local Board’s case for carving up the park is simply wrong: its contentions that playing numbers are declining at Chamberlain Park, that there is a lack of green spaces in the ward and that there are not enough sports fields are demonstrably false. Here are the facts:
While it is true that a decrease from a peak of 80,000 rounds per year in 2001-2 has occurred, since 2010-11 there has been in excess of 50,000 rounds played at Chamberlain every year except one. The drop from the peak can be put down to other courses making green fee play more readily available and the low year arose from a combination of weather conditions and uncertainty arising from the actions of the local board.
DotGolf data notes that as at 17 April rounds played at Chamberlain were + 11.9% over the same period last year. This compares with Auckland overall -5.2% and New Zealand -8.9%.
The number of rounds played annually at Chamberlain is well above the average number of rounds played per year on courses in other parts of the world including Australia, Great Britain and Ireland, South Africa and Western Europe.
As noted by Dean Murphy in the NZ Herald, increasing population projections will necessitate a need for additional golf facilities so to reduce capacity does not make sense.
Lack of green space
According to the 2014 Local Board Plan Albert-Eden has 109 parks and reserves. These occupy some 10% of the board’s area and represent 2.8 hectares per 1,000 residents.
This is consistent with other world cities, where 2.83 hectares per 1,000 residents is considered an optimum. For example, a third of Melbourne’s municipalities have 10% or less open space. As an aside, Melbourne has 40 public golf courses, compared to Auckland’s two.
In addition, Albert-Eden has on or close to its boundaries green spaces such as Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill Domain, Western Springs and Meola Parks. Other parks such as Auckland Domain, Keith Hay Park and War Memorial Park are only a short distance away.
Sports field capacity
Based on Council commissioned research, Albert-Eden needs around 24 sand carpeted fields to satisfy current demand for its population base. As Albert-Eden currently has 32 fields, sand carpeting all of these would easily satisfy current demand and satisfy demand from an increased population in the future.
Installation of hybrid grass and synthetic turf pitches as has been done at Nixon and Gribblehirst Parks would more than double capacity.
2. We have tabled an alternative plan to Council but so far we have been ignored. Here is the document that we have sent to Council:
WIN WIN FOR ALL
The following is an alternative redevelopment of Chamberlain Park that recognises the importance of the 18 hole golf facility for Auckland but at the same time seeks to expand the public usage. No costings have been sought for this alternative plan but it does accommodate a broader range of activities whilst keeping the current 18 hole configuration. Our proposedredevelopment could be self funding if done properly so as not to burden rate payers. It could also incorporate most of the proposed increased usage as envisioned by the Albert-Eden Local Board masterplan.
1. Improve revenue generation
The key objective here would be to help fund some of the proposed alternative redevelopment plans (as outlined below) whilst maintaining CP as a good and affordable18 hole public golf course. Surplus funds from revenue generation could be used to promote and support golf at CP and also other activities. Currently CP is one of the busiest golf courses in Auckland – demand for a public golfing facility like CP is only going to increase with both an increasing and ageing population. In the last financial year CP generated a cash surplus of more than $200,000. It should be noted that under our alternative plan there would be no revenue loss from altering the course.
Under the AELB’s proposed initial redevelopmentthe land the other side of Meola Creek would be annexed significantly reducing the attractiveness of the courseby slicing approx 1000 metres from the course, losing both par 5 holes as well as the number one stroke hole. It is likely that CP would have to significantlydiscount its green fees to attract players but will still likely suffer a meaningful drop in usage - it is also unclear what impact that this might have on both the men’s and women’s clubs during competition golf. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the AELB will achieve the $30m of estimated funding required to complete its Masterplan meaning a permanent reduction in revenue and usage.
Some revenue generating ideas based on CP continuing to be easily-accessible mid-range but challenging 18 hole golf courseinclude:
i. Just 10 minutes drive from the CBD, CP could easily tap into the increasing tourism boom. It could work with organisations such as ATEED to target the ships that come to Auckland.
ii. Ensure that all inner city hotels are made aware of CP
iii. Have a pick up and drop off service along with club rental. At a cost of say $120 per round (it could easily be more - $200 would be a cheap outing) door to door – if you got say 500 people a year that would generate $60,000 per year
i. Promote CP as an alternative fitness venue to teams like the Warriors and Auckland Blues (NB: both teams have been known to play early morning speed golf)
c. Kids programme
i. Put money into promoting Vic Pirihi’s golf clinic, particularly among locals. Promote golf as a game for life
d. Target the elderly
i. Promote CP as a friendly easy access course among the local retirement homes and other establishments (to facilitate access to the whole course put concrete pathways with rubber central strips through the entire course – this way CP would have an all year round cart track so that the less mobile can still enjoy the sport)
e. Event targeting
i. Target the Polynesian and Maori communities – both are already big users of CP
ii. Promote CP for corporate events
f. Other minority groups
i. CP could support groups like the blind or the disabled, becoming a venue where golf can be played
2. Alternative Plan to Broaden the Amenity
This could either self funded (using some of the initiatives outlined above), or supported by some of the capital expenditure currently being envisaged by the AELB. We note here that there are many examples of mixed usage at public courses – from Hagley Park in Christchurch to Saint Andrews Links in Scotland.
a. Develop a cycle and walking track around the perimeter of the course – there is sufficient space to make this an attractive and usable area – particularly if the Waititiko creek is restored which incorporates a solution to the sewage overflow issues at Rawalpindi Reserve.
b. Remove the greenkeeper’s shed (could be put around the bottom end of the car park that runs along the 18th green). This would create an area that could be used as a playground and or tennis courts and netball courts.
c. Create an off-leash dog area on the 15th fairway on the green keeper side of the creek – the 15th hole could be shortened for a set period in the morning and evenings. At other times there could be an experienced tee area that ensures the number one stroke hole remains in place and challenging. For other golfers the hole could be shortened.
d. Develop a virtual driving range – thus requiring much less space. Set up golfing clinics using the experience of the likes of James Kupa and Vic Pirihi. This would greatly assist for teaching and training purposes, thereby adding to the work already being done by James, Vic and the other course professionals. This range could be promoted particularly for children to give them a start and an appreciation for the game of golf so that at the very least they can pick it up in later life.
e. Along with the driving range establish a chipping and putting practice area with several bunkers to help skill improvement. It is suggested that both facilities could be located at the present coaching area alongside the current 10th fairway.
f. Upgrade the clubhouse facilities so that it can be used for community events such as art exhibitions, auctions, fund raising events, craft exhibitions, exercise and wellness classes, meetings and any other local-orientated civic activity.
NB: The only thing in the AELB Masterplan not accommodated here is the two sports fields. It should be noted that putting in sports fields at CP is problematic because of the difficult terrain (CP is sitting on basalt rock) and access from St Lukes Road which will require the support of Auckland Transport.
As part of the vision we would also suggest:
1. CP is designated as a Regional Park to reflect the fact that it is an asset that is well used by all Aucklanders and plays an important role in providing recreational activity for the many who are not in a position to join a private golf course.
2. CP is formally recognised as the “home of the casual golfer” with an 18-hole layout to reflect its patronage and to ensure that it remains an asset for generations of Aucklanders to come. CP is one of the busiest courses in Auckland and one of only two public courses in the city area.