Auckland's Chamberlain Park golf course could be partially privatised to fund a $30 million redevelopment plan, says the group fighting plans to reduce the 18-hole public course to nine holes.
Save Chamberlain Park has jumped on a business case brief for the golf course that talks about private sector funding to help with costs in a long-running battle to keep the 18-hole course.
In a request for a proposal issued last week by Auckland Council, it said "commercial or partnership opportunities and options to reduce costs or increase revenue are also to be investigated as part of a detailed business case."
Save Chamberlain Park spokesman Geoff Senescall said seeking external funding from the private sector was the "thin end of the wedge" that could lead to partial privatisation for the golf course that has been in public hands for 80 years.
It was shocking, he said, that this could result from City Vision, the centre-left ticket that plans to redevelop the golf course with a new nine-hole course, driving range, new sports fields and walking and cycling tracks.
"Inviting proposals to externally fund or support redevelopment plans that includes cutting the golf course in half will almost certainly have financial implications for future users.
"Currently Chamberlain Park, one of only two public 18-hole golf courses servicing the entire Auckland region, is the home of the casual golfer and for those who cannot, or do not want to, afford to join a private club," Senescall said.
Albert-Eden Local Board chairman Peter Haynes said it was complete and utter nonsense to suggest the park could be partially privatised.
He said up until about 2013 the golf course was run by a private operator and saw no problem with a commercial operator running the course or the planned driving range in the future.
"Geoff Senescall is speculating about something that is not remotely going to happen," Haynes said.
Senescall said under private control, commercial returns will need to be achieved and that will more than likely cut out many of the existing users of the park.
He said once reduced to nine holes, the course will be unable to sustain the 63,000 rounds of golf played in the last year and the private model will require more profit.
What's more, he said, fewer players will see the cost of playing golf rise.
"The addition of a driving range will make up for a portion of this loss, but ultimately 'golfing' numbers will most likely drop to an unaffordable level," Senescall said.