The Mount Maunganui Golf Club is seeking to rezone 2780m2 of open space land at the end of Fairway Ave for residential use through Plan Change 33. This plan aims to facilitate the construction of up to 20 houses on the land to generate funds for course and clubhouse redevelopment. The Tauranga City Council initiated Plan Change 33 in response to government alterations to the Resource Management Act (RMA), allowing increased urban intensification.
During the fourth day of the plan change hearings, residents from Fairway Ave expressed concerns regarding the potential consequences of this rezoning. They cited worries about heightened traffic, the risk of golf ball-related accidents, infrastructure and stormwater network strain, as well as the potential removal of trees. These residents were also troubled that the golf club was attempting to achieve the rezoning through the plan change process instead of a more inclusive private process, which would involve more consultation with affected individuals.
In response, a spokesperson for the golf club claimed that they had engaged with submitters and held meetings with immediate neighbors affected by the rezoning.
Cathy Stephenson, a resident, emphasized that their objections were not a simple case of “not-in-my-backyard.” She argued that the golf club had at least three alternative options for pursuing the rezoning application that would involve more notification, consultation, and transparency.
Keryn Hawkes, representing Douglas Leigh, contended that the rezoning would be detrimental to the well-being of the Fairway Avenue community.
Jenni Carden explained that since her house on Fairway Ave was not adjacent to the land proposed for rezoning, she had not been consulted. She sought information from the club’s board and management but claimed they had refused to meet with residents or share any details about their plans.
Fairway Ave is a closed street with two entrances leading to the club. Carden expressed concern about increased traffic on their street, which was affecting their daily lives.
The Mount Maunganui Golf Course, spanning 46 hectares, is surrounded by residential properties and serves as privately owned green space. A portion of the course shares a border with Mount Maunganui Intermediate School, with around 700 students.
Kate Barry-Piceno, the golf club’s legal representative, asserted that submitters had opportunities to participate in the process. She stated that the club had conscientiously consulted with submitters before the plan change was notified, and meetings were held with the immediately affected neighbors, though this claim was met with skepticism from the audience.
The hearing panel consists of chairperson David Hill and commissioners Fraser Campbell, Vicki Morrison-Shaw, and Richard Knott. Hill called for a stop to interjections from the public and assured submitters that they would have their chance to speak.
Morrison-Shaw inquired about the club’s consultation efforts, to which golf club general manager Michael Williams responded that they had been advised by the council to consult with property owners from their driveway to the end of Fairway Ave. He also mentioned meeting with the intermediate school’s principal.
Williams explained that the land under consideration was not needed for golf and was costly to maintain. The club, which has 1400 members, sought to rezone the land to raise funds for the course’s redevelopment, estimated at $6.5 million.
Barry-Piceno pointed out that the land already had necessary services in place, making it development-ready and able to provide housing with significant amenities.
Chairperson Hill mentioned that the panel had conducted site visits and visited Fairway Ave before the submissions hearing.
The hearings are scheduled to continue daily until October 10th.