Why does Auckland Council own 13 golf courses?

The Herald reports:

is reviewing its ownership of 13 golf courses worth more than $40 million, as pressure builds to find space for thousands of new homes in the city.

Developers say the land could be used for up to 8000 houses and apartments if the entire 200ha-plus area was made available, easing the city’s chronic shortfall of about 30,000 homes.

Golf courses are commercial propositions. No need for the Council to own them.

However, the exercise comes as the council is urgently looking for new sources of revenue and space to build houses within existing city limits. Several golf courses, such as Waiheke and Waitemata in Devonport, occupy real estate worth millions but pay only peppercorn rents as little as $1 a year.

Outrageous. Subsidised golf. General parks are open to everyone to use for recreation. These are available only to members of the associated golf club. The golf club should buy the land from the Council or at least pay market rent for it.

Figures obtained by the Weekend Herald show many golf courses enjoy historic sweetheart deals: the Waitemata Golf Club and the Waiheke Golf Club each pay only $1 a year for their privileged positions, surrounded by hundreds of 800sq m private sections paying $4000 a year in rates.

Those two clubs alone occupy 42.7ha, while Omaha, near the holiday home of golfing Prime Minister John Key, returns $5 a year to ratepayers.

That’s 427,000 square metres or 534 800 sq metre sections. So the rates alone from those sections would be $2.14 million.

Hobsonville Land Company chief executive Chris Aiken estimated 5000 to 6000 houses could be built on 200ha but more-intensive use could see up to 8000 residences.

He called for a close examination of all under-utilised Auckland land, not just that used for sports or recreation.

Yep.

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