The fight between golfers and the Albert-Eden Local Board over the development of Chamberlain Park will be back before the High Court at Auckland next week.
The Save Chamberlain Park group, representing golfers from across the city, is challenging the board’s right to proceed with a development that will take away the 18-hole public course established more than 80 years ago.
The course has always been owned by the city council but the local board effectively became its guardian after the creation of the supercity in 2010.
In place of the full course, the board proposes a new nine-hole layout, driving range, sports fields, more public areas and perhaps a new aquatic centre to replace the pool in the grounds of Mt Albert Grammar School that is on borrowed time.
The pro-golf group wants the course left as it is, arguing it is an asset with city-wide benefits and, as such, should not be developed by a parochial local board. It also questions the public consultation process, which it considers to have been flawed – a claim the local board rejects.
The golfer-led group raised $50,000 for a judicial review of the decision and two days were set aside last November for the High Court to hear the challenge. But at the end of the allocated hearing time, when lawyers acting for the board and Auckland Council were only part-way through their arguments, Justice Simon Moore adjourned the case until February 8.
It is unclear how long it will take the judge to hand down his ruling after he has heard the remaining arguments — it could take weeks for him to write up his judgment, given his other bench duties.
The first stage of the redevelopment is the only part of the local board’s Chamberlain Park master plan so far to receive Auckland Council funding (drawn from developers’ compensation for burying streams elsewhere). The physical work was due to begin this month, but it is now on hold, pending the result of the judicial review.
Under the plans for stage one, if it proceeds, four holes on the existing course will be reduced in length and their layouts changed as workers begin improvements to stream and wetland areas to create public open space at the western end of the park.
The new space will be buffered from the golf course by planting along the eastern edge of the Meola Creek/Waititiko and will include a range of community facilities including a playground and BBQ area.