Nearly 100 years after it was founded, Bowls Warkworth has unveiled ambitious proposals to sell its Mill Lane club and build a new $7.5million world-class facility on public land at the bottom of Shoesmith Domain.
The concept includes a large social club, two fully covered greens, parking for 100 cars and a “sky bar” – a raised viewing platform with a bar area running between the two playing areas.
Club secretary Mike Newland said in a deputation to last week’s Rodney Local Board that the present site was no longer fit for purpose and selling the town centre land would provide enough money to build a new club capable of hosting national and even international tournaments.
“The club has been in Mill Lane for 100 years next year,” he said. “The site is long past its use-by date. We’re sitting on around 4500 square metres of land that is a pretty prime piece of real estate and a bowling club is not the best use for it.”
Mr Newland said the idea was to move the club to the site of Shoesmith Hall and the former women’s bowling club, north to Hill Street – around 6000 or 7000 square metres, all of which is public land owned by Auckland Council.
“We want to turn it into New Zealand’s premier bowling club and it will all be funded by the sale of the Mill Lane land,” he told board members.
He said Shoesmith Hall could either be kept and renovated by Warkworth Bowls, or it could be demolished, with current clubs and activities incorporated into the new social club building.
Warkworth Bowls president Francois Loubser said the new club would be revolutionary, attracting a raft of new casual players keen to use the spacious social club space, which could also be available for community use.
“It will be far larger than the 100 members we have at the moment. The number of people who use it will dramatically increase,” he said.
Mike Newland said the club was looking for Local Board support for its idea, as it was the landowner Warkworth Bowls would be leasing the land from.
“We have to spend some money to kick this thing off, so would like an indication that you support us with this endeavour, so we can go to our members with confidence,” he said.
Board deputy chair and Warkworth member Beth Houlbrooke said there would be quite a lengthy process to go through if the Board was to support the proposal.
“It would have to go out to public consultation because you’d be removing public open space,” she pointed out.
Fellow Warkworth member Steven Garner said the concept was unusual.
“There are not many situations where councils are approached by community groups that are as well funded to provide a community facility, potentially, of the size, scope and quality of this one,” he said.
And the Board’s third Warkworth member, Tim Holdgate, was also impressed.
“This would really put Warkworth on the map. I really support it,” he said.