Club makes sub par development drive

Hamilton Golf Club will have to tee off again if it wants to develop its land to shore up its financial future.

Hamilton City Council's operations and activity performance committee recently heard the club was looking to develop a retirement village on the 9600 sq m it owns adjacent to the golf course it leases from council.

Most of the club's land is in car parking. However, Hamilton City Council passed a resolution the following day ordering the matter be withdrawn until the club has developed a full development plan and consulted surrounding residents.

With declining membership - it has lost 100 members during the past 10 years at a cost of $100,000 - the club's management came up with the idea of creating "high quality apartments or units" on its land.

Club manager Malcolm Johnson said the club had looked at how much land it had at its disposal and how it could be better utilised to generate long-term income, ensuring the club's future.

HGC's original submission to council asked it to consider allowing the club to create a 600sq m parking area on the driving range and to move two ancillary buildings that house trundlers, carts and maintenance equipment in front of the existing clubhouse.

The ancillary buildings would occupy around 300sq m in total.

The report's recommendation was that HGC would need to consult with neighbours potentially affected by the proposed carpark, with consultation supported by an artist's impressions.

Mr Johnson said initial reaction from those neighbours was "justifiably" negative.

The club decided to scrap the proposed carpark and work within the confines of the 9600sq m property it owns to accommodate vehicles. Mr Johnson said he thought that would mean the club would resubmit an application to move its ancillary buildings onto the reserve, and would not, therefore, have to consult with neighbouring residents.

The permitted use of the reserve is recorded in the Deed of Lease between council and HGC as "for the playing of golf and associated activities relating to the game of golf".

However, council has ordered HGC to provide a development plan and consult with neighbours if it wants to move forward with its proposal.

Mr Johnson was "disappointed" by the council's decision and said the club would explore its options. "If you look at those irrelevant considerations, we may take a different tack."

The deed of lease requires council approval for the construction of buildings or improvements within the leased area. However, council cannot unreasonably withhold approval if the building or improvements are consistent with the purpose with which the land is leased.

The lease expires in October, 2033.

Mr Johnson said the clubhouse would be demolished and the land would then be "a blank canvas" on which to construct "high quality residential apartments or units" and a new multi-purpose clubhouse that would serve both members and the wider community.

"The outlook for the golfing landscape isn't too rosy. It's the same for a lot of sports," said Mr Johnson.

"The discretionary dollar is shrinking, nor do people have as much time for recreational activities."

The club has about 450 active, full-paying members and about 250 casual members. At its peak, it had almost 1000 members.

- Hamilton News

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