Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Bowling club planning to sell its Remuera site

Members of Rawhiti Bowling Club in Remuera are looking forward to the start of the club's 100th season next month but this could be its last. Photo / Thinkstock
Members of Rawhiti Bowling Club in Remuera are looking forward to the start of the club's 100th season next month but this could be its last. Photo / Thinkstock

Members of Rawhiti Bowling Club in Remuera are looking forward to the start of the club's 100th season next month but this could be its last.

Over the years, membership has dropped to 65 and the club is considering selling its valuable property, which is an island of green in a neighbourhood of $2 million-plus homes.

This month, the Auckland Council consented to changing the land-use zoning of the Rangitoto Ave spread to residential.

Club president Rod College would not estimate how much the nearly 6000sq m chunk of land could fetch as housing land.

"That's for the market to decide," he said. "But there is time to do things properly and get advice from professionals. Members are going to enjoy the season and [we are] not at a point where we can decide what happens to the club."

One option is to merge with another club - as Carlton did after selling its prime Newmarket site to a property developer in 2001.

Carlton members played temporarily at Rawhiti before merging with the Cornwall club and contributing to a new $3 million facility.

Mr College said Rawhiti club members could not personally share in the proceeds of a property sale, because the money had to be used for the good of bowling.

From its full membership of 65 men and women, the club has 25 active players and will run competitions this season.

"People will be very disappointed but you need income from memberships to pay for keeping the greens and you need a lot of volunteers," Mr College said.

The consent for rezoning was confirmed after the Save Our Space Action Group of 55 local residents withdrew their appeal to the Environment Court.

The group sought to keep the site's zoning as a green park.

However, the club has consent to subdivide down to 500sq m sections albeit with controls over future buildings and fences facing the street.

The red brick clubhouse was built in 1963 in the valley between Orakei Rd and Upland Rd.

Club life member Eric Rawson says it was a quiet spot away from traffic with a good view over the three greens.

"Twenty years ago [there] were 200 men and 100 women playing and it was a very competitive club.

"But membership dropped off as senior members were not replaced. People's lifestyles changed - and it's a time-consuming game."

Bayleys real estate agent David Rainbow said a new home in the area on a 767sq m site sold for $2.65 million.

"It's very good real estate and some are large properties.

"They are in the grammar zone and Remuera Primary and in a very community-minded area.

"All properties there have $1 million-plus rateable values."

The council's July 2011 rating value of the club was $1.8 million.

Ponsonby Bowling Club is trying to survive by developing penthouse apartments above the clubrooms. Construction is to start in January.

Auckland Bowls general manager Phil Vyver said some clubs were struggling for members but Auckland had about 7000 bowlers and 18,000 people played in casual games such as business house competitions.

- NZ Herald

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