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Golf course could be split in half

AARON LEAMAN
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2014

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Members of a picturesque Waikato golf course that could be potentially split in half under a proposed $500 million roading project say alternative routes were not fully considered.

Riverside Golf Club representatives spoke at a hearing yesterday into the Southern Links proposed network of state-highway and arterial roads.

The club owns the Narrows and Lochiel golf courses.

Club chairwoman Mary Anne Gill told the hearing's commissioners that the designated Southern Links route crossed four greens on the Narrows course and made it impossible to retain an 18-hole golf course at the site.

"We've had road threats before and we know the impact it has on a golf club and its members," she said.

Gill highlighted a NZ Transport Agency illustration showing traffic on the new road right alongside two greens.

"If you're a little bit long [with your shot] what would you do? You'd hit the bus going over the road," Gill said. "We wonder if other alternatives were considered and why were they dismissed."

Southern Links aims to connect the region to the south of Hamilton and proposes three river crossings.

Commissioner Dr Phil Mitchell said there were examples of golf courses in New Zealand dissected by a road but acknowledged they were "not a road quite like this one".

Considering the practical implications of having the golf course cut in half by a road, Mitchell said an "absolute given" would be good access across the road.

Gill said any access had to accommodate trucks transporting sand and other material around the course.

"There's always the possibility, I guess, they could put the road underneath the golf club. They could put a tunnel under there, I guess, and we wouldn't lose any land."

Neither NZTA nor the Hamilton City Council has set aside funds for the network in their 10-year budgets, but both are seeking to secure the proposed project's footprint for the next 20 years.

Gill said that if Southern Links was approved then NZTA should consider the possibility of purchasing neighbouring land.

"What we need is early engagement. Golf courses don't get built in five years and I venture to suggest they don't get built in 10 years either. They develop over time and the Narrows Golf Club has developed over 79 years."

Speaking earlier, NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said Southern Links was part of the agency's long-term transport plans for Hamilton and was the missing connection around the southern part of the city.

"It might be well out into the future, but our position is you want to send those signals now and do these designations so everyone is clear," he said.

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The Cambridge section of the Waikato Expressway, currently under construction, was designated in the 1960s.

- Waikato Times

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