Transform Mornington Golf Course Into Houses And Parks For All
Wellington – September 20th 2020: A demonstration has been held by The Opportunities Party (TOP) on Sunday at the Mornington Golf Club in Berhampore to showcase how the golf club grounds, used by approximately 100 members, could instead be used to build homes for thousands of Kiwis.
The demonstration featured a gathering of TOP supporters who met the Mornington Golf Course and plotted out the space required to build accommodation that would house 100 people – the same number of members the club serves.
TOP leader, Geoff Simmons, says that ignoring little-used land like this in a housing crisis, so close to the city centre, is completely irresponsible.
“Do we protect hectares upon hectares of prime land for 100 golfers to use?” says Simmons. “Or do we instead provide affordable housing and recreation space for thousands of Kiwis and transform their lives? It’s a no brainer to me.
“How long are we going to turn a blind eye to our broken housing market, and continue to let it undermine our entire economy? How long are we going to allow underused land like the Mornington Golf Course keep us in a chokehold?” continues Simmons. “Rongotai MP Paul Eagle is Patron of this club, does he think his 100 members are more important than the thousands that need affordable housing?”
The Mornington Golf Course in Berhampore land spans across 37.1 hectares of green land. Simmons says that the course should be reduced to nine holes, with 9 hectares put into affordable housing and 9 hectares into recreational green space for all Wellingtonians to enjoy.
Conservative estimates show that 9 hectares the golf course could be used for 500 houses, but that number could easily be twice or even three times as high given the new Spatial Plan.
“The housing should be split three ways, allowing space for social housing, affordable rentals, and the private market,” says Simmons.
In order to maintain some green space and ensure the housing is liveable, Simmons is also proposing 9 hectares for recreation and native bush.
“The COVID lockdown showed just how little green space Wellington has – people struggled to go for walks or runs while maintaining a safe distance. Opening up a quarter of Mornington Golf Course for recreation will mean people can enjoy more of Wellington’s green belt without fear of being hit by tiny white projectiles. It also means more native trees sucking up our carbon emissions.”
Simmons says that the housing crisis is on par with the Covid-19 pandemic as being the greatest challenge in a generation.
“We have the most unaffordable housing market in the western world, with house prices and rents outstripping those in other OECD countries over the last three decades,” continues Simmons. “We’ve just seen our GDP contract by 12 percent due to Covid-19, and yet despite this Wellington’s house prices have risen by 13 percent in the last year.”
TOP has a comprehensive plan to stabilise house prices and rents for a generation. This includes the creation of a new Urban Development Act in order to enable more medium density housing around our public and active transport networks. Local Authorities would also get the GST on development so they can invest in the infrastructure and public transport required.
“Wellington has to fit another 80,000 people in the next 30 years. We can’t afford to sprawl as that just pushes up emissions and transport costs. We have to make better use of what land we have, like this golf course.”
TOP say that desperate reform is needed for the construction industry to enable it build more affordable homes.
“Between supplier duopoly, barriers to young kiwis entering the industry, and consent consistency slowing things down, it’s no surprise that homes aren’t being built at the rate we need to keep up with demand,” says Simmons. “We must review the status quo, free up builders, reduce the cost of raw materials by increasing competition and enable the industry to quickly build more houses.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to sudden losses of jobs and income, putting instant financial pressure and stress on countless kiwis, and making already high accommodation costs now severely unaffordable.
“This crisis has shown us many things about our fragile economy. It is clear that high housing costs are not a sign of success, but rather a noose around our necks,” says Simmons. “We need action on housing immediately.”