The Chamberlain Park re-development is close to a start, with Auckland Council likely to hear the initial resource consent application within the next few weeks.
Consents are needed before work can begin on stage one of the overall plan by the Albert Eden Local Board to cut the golf course from 18 holes to nine and open up the land to wider public use.
The council is applying to its own planning department for those consents and its officers want the step to be non-notifiable – allowing the application to be heard without outside input.
But Save Chamberlain Park (SCP), the group representing golfers, says the community should have its say and it may go to court if it is denied that right.
It has written to Mayor Phil Goff, asking him to “intervene and instruct council staff to do the right thing” and require public notification.
“Transparency and public input to such matters is what is required if the council is to restore public credibility to its processes and improve the quality of its decision making,” says SCP chair Geoff Senescall.
“… By the council’s own criteria this is a very contentious application. It has frequently been in the media, it has been the subject of court action and there has been disagreement among council staff and among elected members about whether the proposal should go ahead.
“It is a highly controversial project in which Auckland Council is both applicant and consent authority. If these circumstances do not amount to not enough reason to allow the public to have a say, what circumstances would?”
A High Court judge has already rejected the SCP arguments seeking a rethink of the development and, outside a political change of mind, the resource consent process may offer the group a final chance to turn things around.
The court case – opened in November last year and adjourned for further argument on February 8 before the judge’s ruling in June – forced the local board and council to put the already-funded first stage of the plan on hold.
Now, if the consents are granted, work will start very quickly to take advantage of the “construction season” weather offered by spring, summer and autumn.
The first stage, which the local board hopes can be completed by the end of next autumn, involves:
- Restoring and cleaning up Waititiko /Meola Creek and associated wetland areas;
- A facelift for Rawalpindi Reserve and the creation of a new public space, buffered from the course with new native trees, with community facilities like a playground and barbecue area;
- Re-shaping four holes at the western edge of Chamberlain Park to allow for the improvements.
A start date for stage two, assuming funding is settled, is uncertain. But work could begin around 2022, finishing perhaps in 2024 or 2025. It involves:
- A redesigned nine-hole golf course, driving range and practice area;
- Two news sport fields;
- Public pathways
- Possibly a pool complex to replace the existing Mt Albert Aquatic Centre in the grounds of Mt Albert Grammar.