The High Court has ruled against a group that opposed new uses for part of an Auckland golf course and in favour of park users in the battle over Chamberlain Park.
Save Chamberlain Park Inc lost its case against Auckland Council, which wanted to redevelop the golf course and open it to the wider community.
The group challenged the council's decision, developing a new master plan for the park. The court rejected the application for a judicial review.
A spokesperson for Save Chamberlain Park said the decision was a significant blow and will meet with lawyers about a possible appeal.
"Clearly this is not the outcome we had hoped for. It was always going to be tough flighting Council with all its resources," the spokesperson said.
"We will review the judgement in detail with our lawyers to see if we will appeal. But legalities aside – this is a significant blow for the working classes and others who rely on Chamberlain Park as a low cost and accessible place to play golf. It also is a blow for future generations of Aucklanders."
Board chair Peter Haynes said the local board maintained an open mind and considered all relevant matters.
"The judgment confirms that the local board maintained an open mind and considered all relevant matters in arriving at its decision, including the strong interests of certain communities," Haynes said.
"As Justice Moore concluded, the decision here was made by an elected body exercising it functions on behalf of the wider community in a democratic fashion."
The 18-hole golf course in Mt Albert is owned and operated by the council but the Albert-Eden Local Board wants to redevelop the course to open it to the wider community.
That would mean to cut the golf course to nine holes and add a new aquatic centre, playground, cycleways and two artificial turf sports fields.
Save Chamberlain Park argued in court that the local board had breached its obligations to collaborate and co-operate with other local boards on changing the golf course's use. The incorporated entity said the local board had pre-determined the decision to change the park.
Official documents released earlier this year revealed the redevelopment could cost up to $15 million.
At the time, the local board's chair said that cost is a "worst-case scenario" based on buying in fill, and the final cost is likely to be much lower.
An investment summary presented to the Albert-Eden Local Board last year showed the sports field costs ballooning due to the difficulty of building on the course's rolling terrain, which lies over volcanic rock.
Haynes told the Herald using fill from earthworks at a project like the Central Interceptor and Central Rail Link would significantly cut the cost of the sports fields.
"It is extremely unlikely that we'd ever pay that much money ... in fact, we are saving a huge amount of money if we put sports fields on Chamberlain Park because we won't have to buy other land."