Idea for solving Sydney's infrastructure problems: bulldoze exclusive golf clubs

Royal Sydney Golf Club. Photo: Getty Images

Sydney’s 91 golf courses, covering around 38 square kilometres of open space, are being underutilised, according to Australian urban planning experts.

The recently released City of Botany Bay’s Vision 2040 Directions Paper highlights the possibility of transforming Eastlakes golf course, around 20 minutes from Sydney’s CBD, into a major public park, reinstating public access to the Botany Wetlands.

“There might be 1100 members of Eastlakes Golf Club but probably thousands of kids in that area struggling to get space to play soccer and Aussie Rules,” town planner Sean Macken told Fairfax Media.

“Having that much open space often used exclusively for private purposes is just not good planning.”

Courses such as the members-only Australian Golf Club in Rosebery, if converted to houses or apartments, could increase the land value to more than $1.7 billion.

“Sydney has more golf courses within the metropolitan area than any other major city in the world,” Macken says.

Gordon Golf Course, located within Ku-ring-gai Council, is considering a similar plan to transform the course into picnic areas, playgrounds and walking and cycling trails.

Urban planner at the University of Sydney, Nicole Gurran, told Fairfax the idea to convert golf courses into housing developments and recreational spaces could alleviate Sydney’s housing troubles.

“When you have more intense housing development, these open spaces do become really important,” she says. “I think it’s great that councils are looking proactively at how to more fairly share access to those areas.”

However, Golf NSW chief Stuart Fraser says golf courses are heavily utilised facilities that benefit the community.

“They provide a healthy outdoor activity for many thousands of people in an ageing population, and I would say it’s a good use for the land,” he says. “To say it’s for a chosen few is not correct.”

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