Hous­ing cri­sis

The Cut - - NEW ZEALAND GOLF -

To the angst of prop­erty moguls and de­vel­op­ers in New Zealand, many golf cour­ses en­joy “his­toric sweet­heart deals” in the city, with Waitem­ata Golf Club and the Wai­heke Golf Club each pay­ing $1 an­nual rental in­come de­spite be­ing sur­rounded by pri­vate sec­tions pay­ing as much as $4000 a year in rates.

A rise in media in­ter­est comes at a time when Auck­land Coun­cil iden­ti­fies the need to pro­vide for up to 400,000 ad­di­tional house­holds by 2040.

“Are we de­bat­ing ways to grow the game of golf or ways to ease the hous­ing cri­sis in Auck­land?” Whi­ley asks. “Auck­land Coun­cil has no ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what is go­ing on; they are merely look­ing at a map, see­ing lots of green space and tar­get­ing golf.”

But cru­cially for Whi­ley, econ­o­mists such as Eaqub have “missed the point” when call­ing for bunkers to be re­placed by breeze blocks.

“On pa­per, Waitem­ata is in a prime area of residential use,” he ex­plains, “ex­cept it’s be­low sea level and if you look at the in­fra­struc­ture of the area, how will Auck­land Coun­cil make it work?

“If you re­place Waitem­ata with 560 houses, what hap­pens to the res­i­dents who pur­chased their homes next to a golf course? What hap­pens to their land value?

“What if 200 chil­dren live in those houses. Do we have enough schools, public trans­port, elec­tric­ity, sewage treat­ment? All these pieces of the puz­zle come into play. You can’t just pick a spot and build on it.”

At present, “a lot of the land” on which these golf cour­ses op­er­ate is zoned as open space or ac­tive recre­ation and/or clas­si­fied un­der the Re­serves Act 1977, with Auck­land Coun­cil “not com­mis­sion­ing any pro­fes­sional or tech­ni­cal ad­vice about the de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial of this land”.

Golf aside, for many Auck­lan­ders, both golfers and non golfers; cities are com­prised of more than just build­ings and peo­ple. For hun­dreds of years across the world, city plan­ners have de­vel­oped parks, planted trees and set aside open space in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments, and as cities con­tinue to grow, the most ‘live­able’ cities — a badge of hon­our Auck­land Coun­cil des­per­ately cov­ets — are as known for their open space as they are for their cul­ture.

“Great parks and spa­ces are im­por­tant to Auck­lan­ders, and so is be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive and en­joy­ing the out­doors,” says Chris­tine Fletcher, coun­cil­lor, Al­bertE­den-Roskill. “De­mands on our parks, in­clud­ing sports parks, is high and as we look to Auck­land’s fu­ture we need to un­der­stand how best to utilise these ar­eas for all Auck­lan­ders.”

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