The Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club has hit the rough with its plan to rezone its 80 hectare course in Papatoetoe.
The Ōtara-Papatoetoe Local Board voted on Tuesday to unanimously oppose the proposal. But despite the board’s decision, the exclusive golf club is still expected to present its case to an independent hearings panel.
Under the Auckland Unitary Plan, the Papatoetoe property is zoned for residential mixed housing, urban and residential terraced housing and apartments.
However, the club wants to use a private plan change to make it an open space – sport and active recreation zone.
The board said the club’s zoning had been included in the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP), which had been the subject of widespread public consultation.
“There were extensive processes during the public consultation for the unitary plan that resulted in the current land zoning. This planning regulatory tool must be recognised as the primary reference and given due weight, rather than be taken lightly to serve private interests.”
The board said there was already a housing shortage in Ōtara and Papatoetoe, which had to be factored in when considering the club’s rezoning proposal.
“The benefits of retaining the current residential zone far outweighs the reasons for the request for a plan change.”
Local board chairwoman Lotu Fuli said it would have been unconscionable for the board to have voted any other way.
“There was a strong feeling from the members that we were opposed to the plan change application,” Fuli said.
“We’re in the middle of a housing crisis right now and our community feels that more acutely than a lot of other areas.”
The change in zoning was also expected to save the club paying a hefty annual rates bill, something Fuli was more than aware of.
“We’re about to go out to residents to possibly ask them to pay more in rates because of the fiscal hole the council is in, so why shouldn’t the golf club have to contribute like other Aucklanders? They should pay the rates that are appropriate for that land.”
Auckland Unitary Plan
According to a report to the local board by Auckland Council planner Roger Eccles, the club sees the plan change as a way to support the long-term future of the golf course and bring it into line with the zoning of other golf clubs in the Auckland area.
But he said retaining the existing zoning would allow for future development and would also be in keeping with the Auckland Unitary Plan, the Government’s national policy statement on urban development and the council’s climate change policy.
Auckland Council officers agreed in late 2020 to accept the plan change proposal so it could go out for public consultation in November, and submissions closed on December 17.
The site has been home to a golf course for 110 years, but it isn’t open to the general public.
In 2020, Māngere man Alekisanita Loloa slammed the club’s rules as “elitist” after being told he needed 12 referees, who must all be current members, for his membership application to be considered.
Formerly known as Auckland Golf Club, the club amalgamated with the Grange in 2015. Club members include former prime minister John Key, his wife Bronagh and son Max.
The Royal Auckland and Grange Golf Club was approached for comment.