A proposition to sell Whangaparāoa Golf Club’s land in Army Bay to a developer and use the money to buy Gulf Harbour Country Club has been rejected by the club’s membership.
Developers are eyeing up Whangaparāoa Golf Club’s 41ha of residential zoned land in Army Bay, especially since, in recent years, the club changed the zoning of its site under the Auckland Unitary Plan from open space to residential (HM May 2016).
The club’s general manager David Herbert says the idea behind the zoning change was to enable small land sales off the edge of the site to bring in some cash.
However, the immediate impact was an enormous rates increase, from $10,000 per annum to $40,000.
Mr Herbert says the club, which has a membership of around 400, struggles to find this sum every year, which led to a discussion around how to make the club more sustainable, long term.
As well as seeking assistance from Auckland Council – for example a larger rates remission and assistance with runoff issues – one thing under consideration is a return to open space zoning, although this is a complicated and expensive process.
Another option was to sell to a developer, and when an offer came in it was put to members at a special general meeting, called by members, on January 30 for a decision.
Whangaparāoa Golf Club member Lars Palmgren, a former member of the Peninsula Golf Club in Red Beach that was sold for development, says at last November’s annual meeting, members were told about a potential offer, but it was thought that nothing further would happen.
“However, the members grew suspicious when they saw surveyors or valuers on the course,” he says. “Members called the special general meeting to find out what was going on and to stop any progress towards a sale, if that was the majority view,” he says.
He says at the meeting the key motion put to members was: “do members want the management committee to continue to pursue the sale of Whangaparāoa golf course, land and assets, for the possible purchase of Gulf Harbour Country Club, land and assets, which will incur costs – yes or no?”
Mr Herbert says members voted not to look any further into this offer, as the majority want the club to continue as a community facility.
“We have been here since the 1950s and have a friendly culture and a great facility that members value,” Mr Herbert says. “I also consider that golf courses are an important environmental, as well as sporting asset to a place.”
He says now that the decision regarding the developer’s offer has been made, a real plan is needed to help the facility grow and thrive.
Last year the club made a $25,000 loss, which Mr Herbert says was in large part due to its rates bill.
In the meantime, the club has consent from Council consent to subdivide about 1ha for sale, subject to conditions, which Mr Herbert says will not compromise the course’s 18 holes but may mean relocating some car parks.
The club is an Incorporated Society and charity, so any proceeds of sale must remain within the Society.