Proactive approach to council’s investment in golf
12 September 2018
Auckland Council has no plans to sell golf courses.
On 12 September Auckland councillors were briefed on a comprehensive analysis of 12 of the 13 council-managed golf courses in the Auckland region. This analysis will enable the council to actively plan its investment in golf and anticipate future needs.
Analysis of individual courses includes identifying all the potential alternative uses for each golf course in order to inform future decision-making. This includes agricultural and park use, mixed use recreation, and the potential value of the land if it was to be used for housing. The report does not make any recommendations – it purely provides a comprehensive methodology for analysis and prioritisation.
Cost-benefit analysis work
In June 2017, Auckland Council commissioned further research to support the Golf Facilities Investment Plan, including development of a cost-benefit model to guide future investment in golf. Now that this framework is complete, work on the Golf Facilities Investment Plan can progress.
Environment and Community Committee Chair Councillor Penny Hulse says this model enables the council to take an evidence-based approach to drafting the plan to maximise the benefits to all Aucklanders.
“By providing sufficient golf courses and other recreational facilities we will meet the demands of a fast-growing population. Data and analysis will guide this investment.
“Not all benefits can be quantified – such as the mental health benefits of physical activity and the ecological benefits of good open space management – but having a thorough analysis of each site puts the council in a much better position to meet the changing needs of Auckland communities and deliver a wider range of benefits for all.
“The investment plan is not about selling golf courses, but is about better use of golf assets to meet the needs of our diverse communities.”
The investment framework has been applied to 12 council-owned* or managed golf courses to help assess current state and future council investment in golf.
Engagement with stakeholders, especially the golfing community, has also been an important consideration in developing the investment framework and will continue into the next stage of consultation on the Golf Facilities Investment Plan.
Mayor Phil Goff says, “The 13 council-owned or managed golf courses are a major asset for our city valued at around $3 billion and are enjoyed by tens of thousands of Auckland golfers each year.
“Our meeting this week with New Zealand Golf was very constructive and we shared views on how we could get the best results from these valuable assets for Aucklanders as a whole as well as golfers.
“One idea that we agreed to explore was opening
up access to the over 500 hectares of open space that golf
courses occupy to the wider public. This could involve, as
in the case of the famous St Andrews Golf Course in the UK,
allowing the public to use the areas as parks on Sundays.
Another idea was creating walk and cycle corridors through
golf courses, subject to safety and practical considerations
These are exciting ideas to explore,” says Phil Goff.
Parks and Recreation Senior Policy Manager Paul Marriott-Lloyd says the golf cost-benefit analyses results are unsurprising and it is important to look at the community benefit as well.
“While the results indicated the high opportunity cost of retaining land in public ownership, other community assets such as parks, libraries and pools are also associated with higher opportunity costs. These are offset by the benefits that the community gets from using these facilities.
“Understanding costs and benefits is an important part of providing quality advice on the management of council golf assets.
“Possible options for each of the council-owned golf courses will be presented in the final plan,” he says.
No decisions have been made
by the council about the future of its investment in golf.
Further engagement with the public and key stakeholders is
required before the draft Golf Facilities Investment Plan is
finalised in early 2019.
The Golf Facilities Investment Plan will look at a hierarchy model to provide an optimum future network of fit-for-purpose golf facilities that meet the diverse needs of Aucklanders.
• The model and the CBA results were presented to a workshop of the Environment and Community Committee on 12 September 2018.
• (*) The council owns 10 golf courses and manages leases for another three courses on Crown land, bringing the total of council-managed courses in the region to 13. The Cost Benefit Analysis model was applied to 12 of the 13 council-managed courses, excluding Great Barrier Island’s course which doesn’t face the same pressures as the other courses.