Wellington Scoop

Communities over golf courses – Conor Hill’s plan for more affordable more homes

Media release from Conor Hill
Half of the Berhampore Golf Course could be transformed into affordable homes and facilities for the community, if Wellington voters elect Conor Hill as Mayor this October.

“As anyone who has tried to rent or buy a house in Wellington recently will tell you, our city is in dire need of more homes. Yet 5 kilometres from the Beehive, we have a golf course heavily subsidized by Wellington ratepayers, which only has 100 members” said Conor Hill. “At a time when the number of applicants on the social housing register in Wellington has almost doubled, this is a poor use of valuable land[1].”

“Nine holes of golf would become 50% community facilities and a mixture of 50% social, affordable and market homes. For the community facilities I propose a co-design with the south Wellington community as to what they would like.”

Hill is calling on Central Government to get behind the proposal: “Central government needs to allow Wellington to build genuine community facilities and homes on what is currently 9 holes of Berhampore Golf Course. This would require Berhampore Golf Course to be removed from the Wellington Town Belt.”

“With nine holes of this golf course, let’s build a beautiful mix of community facilities and homes. It’s a win-win. Golfers can keep playing. The south Wellington community will have more community facilities. In this time of dire housing shortage, there will be more homes in Wellington.

“For the social homes, this is a great location for some of the 750 social and affordable homes that Justin Lester promised 2 years ago. The remaining homes could be market or Kiwibuild.”


· “The typical town belt character is poorly developed in this sector due to the open nature of the golf course” – This is direct from section 8.6 of the town belt management plan, p 135

· p.135 of the same management plan has the golf course size at 37.1 hectares (91 acres).

· 25 players or fewer using the course daily comes from this article.

· 100 members from Andy Foster quote in this article. This also has the cost to the council at $150,000 which equates to $1500 per member.

· From December 16 to March 19, the number of applicants on the social housing register in Wellington has gone from 183 to 361 – almost doubled. You can go here and download the spreadsheet and look on the TA – summary tab.

· The same spreadsheet has a TAB called TA – priority. This has over 300 applicants in Wellington city as Priority A – “The household is unable to access and/or sustain suitable, adequate and affordable alternative housing.”

· If we use 9 – 10 hectares (a quarter of the entire 37.1 hectare golf course) for housing we could get somewhere between 6-800 houses at a medium density (up to three stories). This would be similar to the Altair development in Newtown – see page 3. The Altair is an exemplar used by council for medium density housing.

· Over the past three years average house prices have increased 14% per annum.

[1]From December 2016 to March 2019, the number of applicants on the social housing register in Wellington has gone from 183 to 361.



  1. Wallop, 30. July 2019, 9:30

    Conor, I suspect you’re about to feel the wrath of the people who wouldn’t even let a dog kennel be built on town belt land no matter how sensible an idea it might be.

  2. Helen, 30. July 2019, 10:07

    Green spaces make Wellington what it is. If people can’t afford to live in Wellington, go to Eketahuna of Woodville and buy a do-it-upper. Wellington’s full! Town belt is our lungs.

  3. Micky, 30. July 2019, 12:08

    Maybe the Govt should reconsider the UN’s immigration policy for NZ. Then also think about their wanton privatization and destruction of needed public or “social” housing supply.
    Why suggest a private development? If the whole golf course was used for social/public housing replacement, it would still not meet the losses and the growing demand for public housing. The Hutt/Tawa has way more space available for private housing and those who can afford new homes can also afford to travel by train to work.
    Houses which are shelter are not communities people are.

  4. Benny, 30. July 2019, 12:15

    Trading green spaces for houses should be done with extreme caution. Nature, somehow, needs to get “something in return” when we eat it away, bit by bit. Not doing so is accepting we are eroding it over time. Green spaces are essential to people balance (mind and health) so I would be very careful to not adversely affect local residents by taking some away from them.

  5. Tony Jansen, 30. July 2019, 12:23

    Once you start eating into the town belt, there will be no end. This is a fine example of a poorly thought out solution that not only does not adequately address the problem but in actual fact creates much bigger ones. If you want to be Mayor Conner, you will need to demonstrate better thinking and decision processes than this. It is not often you will find me siding with Justin Lester, but on this I agree.

  6. Hel, 30. July 2019, 12:27

    While many people can be overly protective of what can take place on the town belt, it is this high threshold of public interest that protects the town belt from the stupidity of politicians.

  7. Curtis Antony Nixon, 30. July 2019, 12:46

    Hands of the golf course!
    1. The town belt exists as a feature to relieve us all from living in a concrete jungle. WCC is considering changing the district plan to allow high rising of Berhampore and other near-inner city suburbs. That would only be acceptable if there is green space surrounding them.
    2. As a Berhampore resident I resent the negligence and neglect of our suburb, because, it would seem, we are a traditionally low income area with much social housing, and the development here is mainly around feeder roads on the way to other big name suburbs like Island Bay.
    3. Just because the golf course doesn’t look like the rest of the tree-covered town belt isn’t a reason to disparage it. I have seen flocks of tuis with native falcons chasing them there, king fishers, and more.
    4. Many people use the golf course for other things than golf: walking (it’s part of the City to Sea walkway), running, frisby golf, dog walking and more.
    5. I could get behind a plan to re-develop the eastern side of the golf course to other recreational uses like mountain biking with native re-vegetation, while keeping the western side as a nine-hole golf course. But the recreational nature needs to be retained.

  8. Paul, 30. July 2019, 12:52

    I would strongly oppose opening up the town belt for housing, as it sets such a dangerous precedent. First the golf course, then once the precedent is there and the developers smell blood and begin to circle, more and more will be redesignated as SHAs or whatever the new term becomes, until there is nothing left but a sea of roofs and the memory of green space.

  9. mason, 30. July 2019, 13:01

    Ratepayer subsidized golf has got to go. Plus if we get rid of a few courses in the region it may help others that are struggling financially.

  10. Michael Gibson, 30. July 2019, 17:38

    Re “opening up the town belt for housing” I would be interested to hear if Helene Ritchie’s brilliant work on the Town Belt Act would allow this. WCC’s favouring of developers is well illustrated by them ramming through Shelly Bay as a Special Housing Area.

  11. Andy Foster, 30. July 2019, 18:18

    Hi Conor – I would steer well clear of the Town Belt.
    Over my time on Council we have fought to recover pieces of land for the Town Belt that the Government took out of it prior to the Council becoming the Trustee of the Town Belt in 1873. So we have added back a large chunk of the southern end of Te Ahumairangi Hill, the Chest Hospital and this triennium land off Devon /Abel Smith Streets. We have also added a number of adjacent areas like Rangiohua in Wadestown, and the northern lookout at Mt Victoria. The Town Belt is now 525 hectares where it had been reduced to 400.
    At the same time we have also created the Outer Green Belt – from almost a standing start. These Green Belts are essential parts of the character and beauty of Wellington. They are essential to the quite remarkable – ongoing – recovery of biodiversity in Wellington. They are also fantastic recreational assets.

    The Golf Course is indeed under-utilised as a golf course. The Town Belt Management Plan which is just a couple of years old recognises this and includes a policy to look at options to work with the golfing community to look at reducing the number of holes to 13 or 9 if numbers can’t be increased. However that does not mean you can sell the land! What it might mean is looking at different recreational and conservation activities that are compatible with its Town Belt status.

    The Town Belt has a special status. It has its own Act – good luck changing that.
    You would have to change the Management Plan.
    You would have to change the District Plan zoning.
    You would have to get around that the Mayor and Councillors hold the Town Belt in Trust on behalf of the Citizens of Wellington. In that role we are obligated to act in the best interests of the Town Belt. I don’t think there is any chance of the community agreeing to any of that.

    I agree completely with the comments above that these special areas are a critical part of what makes Wellington, Wellington.

    Andy Foster
    City Councillor

  12. Brendan, 31. July 2019, 6:38

    Companies are likely to follow Sleepyhead and move out from our congested cities to our forgotten zombie towns where land prices are cheap. I say good on them! As Helen says, “Wellington is full” and it’s time our aspiring local politicians and officers realised it and started ‘non-planning’ for zero population growth.

  13. TrevorH, 31. July 2019, 7:02

    Leave the town belt alone. Open spaces like Berhampore are precious. Furthermore with Miramar Golf Course under threat from the airport, Berhampore may become the only facility remaining in the city for people to enjoy golf in the future. I had understood the club was doing reasonably well these days in promoting the game to young people.

  14. Conor Hill, 31. July 2019, 10:45

    Hi Andy, sounds like we agree on 75% of the plan. As you allude to, the rest represents only 0.2% of Wellington’s green space.
    Meanwhile, over the council’s last term the number of people on the social housing register has almost doubled to 361. Let’s make fixing that part of the next council’s legacy.

  15. michael, 31. July 2019, 10:50

    Just a shame there is no passion in the WCC to retain and increase the very limited green space in the city. The sunny little green area in Dixon Street was given over to Willis Bond and now Mr Lavery is eyeing up Jack Ilott Green (by Civic Square) as “prime real estate”. He probably has developers lining up already. And, as the waterfront is slowly disappearing under buildings, the City Centre is slowly turning into a concrete jungle. Good for making money to spend on vanity projects but really bad for the well-being of the people.

  16. Andrew S, 31. July 2019, 11:23

    How does building a part private part public housing on the town belt fix the 361 (doubling of) people in need of public housing? Conor to me it sounds like you are 75% in agreement with the old problematic Councilors.

  17. Guy M, 31. July 2019, 17:42

    Let’s be truthful – it’s a dog of a course. I played there once – who the hell designed a course that has the green on top of the hill, and the teeing off site at the base of the hill? Combining slippery long grass, a strong northerly, and a rubbish golfer like myself, and I must have had my balls roll off the top of the hill half a dozen times. Finally I quit and retired to the 19th, so to speak. Pull up the flags and fill it with trees I say! Make it an extension of Zealandia. Fence it and fill it full of rare kiwi and moa. Anything but golf….