Forests before houses if we are to flip Golf Courses
No I am not being an ultra-green hippie here before you get any odd ideas. But I am going to reply to a three-part series by Peter Nunns over at Transport Blog over the apparent case of flipping golf courses in urban Auckland to housing and possibly commercial estates on pure monetary grounds. That is Auckland is subsidising these golf courses who do not pay market rates on their land as the rest of Auckland Ratepayers do thus is it fair for Auckland to do so?. To draw the long story short especially looking at Part Three of Mr Nunns analysis:
Thus it can be reasonably concluded from Mr Nunns that the land at Chamberlain Park should be flipped over to housing and commercial to remove the bias of rate subsidies otherwise incurred at the golf course.
I could not think of a worse proposition for urban Auckland especially Isthmus Auckland which has high population densities already and will only get higher as time draws on.
The Case for Urban Green Spaces
I saw this quote from the same Transport Blog post which is similar to my own reaction about what is essentially green spaces:
I’m not a great fan of golf as a sport (as once said, golf is a nice walk, ruined), and I’ve been following your anti-municipal-golf-rant through the last few articles, but I think you have perhaps missed the main point. Auckland is a great city not because of its architecture, or because of its seamlessly effortless public transport system, but because of its unique outdoors nature. It is a city with massive amounts of seafront, and beaches, and trees, and open spaces, and that includes things like ridiculously cheaply priced, under-used golf courses. It may make no economic sense, but it is part of what makes Auckland special. Delete it at your peril.
We have enough existing urban land in Auckland to take the intensification needs of a growing Auckland through the life of the Unitary Plan. The Auckland Council Development Capacity Model (ACDC15) has been run now several times using different variations of the four urban residential zones (Single House, Mixed Housing Suburban, Mixed Housing Urban, and Terraced Housing and Apartment Zones) and has illustrated that with some more upzoning and getting the Centres (especially the 10 Metropolitan Centres (or rather 8 and the two Super Metro Centres as I have proposed)) better prepared we have more than enough existing urban land to develop on before cutting into our green spaces.
Green spaces which become even MORE important as the City intensifies and more people move in over the next thirty years.
Hence as I believe if we are to flip any Council owned golf courses over those courses should be come urban park spaces and/or urban forests!
Well when New Zealand is the worst offender in the Developed World for loss of native flora and fauna replanting some of our native forests in urban Auckland would be a good start to repair some of the damage we have done since the Colonial era.
But there are other reasons both physical and social of benefit to establishing urban parklands and forests in Auckland of we were to ever flip over those golf courses. These reasons include:
- Urban lungs for a city that has smog problems that will only get worse as we intensify and grow
- Green corridors for our native wildlife especially birds
- Close proximity of large green spaces for the population to enjoy recreation in
- Possibility of establishing trails including bike trails in the middle of urban Auckland
- Mitigating the obesity crisis as more people will be within close access to a large urban forest (again recreation)
- Stormwater and run off relief as you can establish ponds to capture and filter rain water from an intensified and more impervious Auckland before it enters the streams and harbours
- Social interaction. Who doesn’t like going for a walk or bike ride with others in an urban forest?
- Amenity values to urban areas surrounding the new urban forests
Yes Auckland is blessed with green and open spaces but this does not provide an excuse to bulldoze golf courses into housing estates. I am sorry that is what the existing urban landscape is for. Golf courses should become those urban lungs and recreation spaces as we continue to intensify.
The physical and social environment benefits of establishing these forests would offset what turning those courses into housing estates (and rates revenue gained subsequently) could ever provide.
Simply put: Forests before houses with our golf courses if they are ever to be flipped!
Below is pictures from last Summer at the Botanical Gardens and Manukau’s Hayman Park. Examples of large green spaces in urban Auckland that can be replicated if we were to ever flip over those public golf courses.