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Bowling club up for sale

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 27/06/2014
Rawhiti bowling club

GREENS GOING: The Rawhiti Bowling Club’s land is up for sale.

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Lower the flag and take down the honours board.

The land occupied by the century-old Rawhiti Bowling Club in Remuera is up for grabs and looks set to be swallowed up by housing.

The 6000 square metre space on Rangitoto Ave was put on the market on Saturday. The tender closes on July 30.

A zoning change in 2011 allows nine residential lots on the site, with a maximum height of 8 metres.

Dwindling membership and financial struggles forced the club to close at the end of the 2013 season and it has been waiting to sell ever since.

It is the final straw in a series of missed opportunities, Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton says.

Churton lives near the club and called for the council to acquire the site when it was offered up in the late 90s but the proposal was declined.

He opposed the zoning change three years ago and again called for the site to be bought by the council.

The land value has doubled since and the price is now out of reach for anyone wishing to retain the open space, Churton says.

The last glimmer of hope is for whoever buys the site to include a pocket park, he says.

"The opportunity to get useable land anywhere in our ward now is virtually gone. It's a lost opportunity.

"The time to acquire it, when it was still zoned for open space, is gone. It's a 99.9 per cent dead duck now for council to purchase it."

Remuera Residents Association chairman Iain Valentine says the sale is disappointing.

"I just don't know how it got signed off as a development site.

"I lament the loss of green space in Remuera when there is such a shortage already.

"Nobody's prepared to invest the substantial amount necessary to buy residential properties to make green space. It's making it harder and harder to create a really liveable suburb."

Lloyd Earwaker, who lives across the road from the club, says it's important for any buildings to fit in with the character of the area.

"A lot of the residents would prefer period-looking homes go up there instead of a modern development."

New Zealand Bowls chief executive Kerry Clark says the sale has been a long time coming.

Members have moved to other clubs in surrounding suburbs and proceeds from the sale will go to the "good of the sport", he says.

That means members may decide to set up a trust or donate some of the money to another club, Clark says.

More bowling clubs are going to have to start thinking with a different mindset to adapt to the modern world, he says.

"It's definitely a sign of the times. When bowling clubs were established, they were on every corner.

"The world was a different place to what we're living in now.

"The outcome of this particular decision is that there will be some stronger clubs and money to help the sport develop. The sport will be better for it."

Bayleys Remuera salesman David Rainbow says the "blank canvas" is already drawing a lot of attention from developers.

The land is valued at $1000 per square metre and he expects the site will go for at least $6 million.

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- East And Bays Courier

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