The popular uprising to save Frankton nine-hole golf course appears to have been delivered a death knell.
A 5000-strong petition to save the 80-year-old facility when its lease expires in 2012 was recently gathered by course bosses and supporters.
But Mountain Scene can reveal part of the land is owned by Queenstown Airport Corporation – and now they want it back.
QAC boss Steve Sanderson confirms 10 hectares, currently used by Queenstown Golf Club and Lakes Leisure, will be needed from 2012 to build an $8 million airport taxiway.
That means parts of holes four, five, six, seven and eight could be sliced when the airport assumes its official boundary.
Queenstown Golf Club boss Michael Shattock says he didn’t know QAC owned part of the Frankton course’s land till Mountain Scene pointed it out to him.
He says he’s “surprised” leaseholder Queenstown Lakes District Council hadn’t previously informed the club of the situation.
“After Mountain Scene let us know we gave them a call.”
Shattock met Sanderson on Tuesday to discuss the issue and he’s talking to QLDC boss Debra Lawson next week.
Sanderson says the airport hadn’t spoken to the golf club about the matter because QLDC holds the lease: “It’s for QLDC and Lakes Leisure to interact with the golf club because we’re allowing Lakes Leisure and council to use that land.”
Presently, QLDC isn’t paying QAC any money to use the land.
Despite the uncertainty, Shattock remains optimistic because plans won’t be finalised for some time, adding he can’t comment on holes being lost because it’s still early days.
“I would hope we would be left with at least the clubhouse, driving range and some par-three holes,” he says.
“Maybe if that’s the case we might get a little bit more security on [the course once the lease expires]. I don’t know if it’s good news or bad news.
Shattock adds: “I think all parties are aware of how important Frankton [golf course] is to the local population, without a doubt.
“Five thousand signatures is [significant] so it would be nice to have some form of golf retained in addition to the driving range.”
Sanderson says the need for a taxiway was determined a few years ago.
“It’s about capacity,” he explains.
“When an aircraft is using the main runway to backtrack, the runway’s out of action for take-off and landing.”
He’s unsure at this stage if the Queenstown Events Centre land would be affected.
Ideally, the taxiway would be built on the other side of the runway, connecting with a longer taxiway that’s also planned – but there’s no room, Sanderson says.
“If we kept on going [with the main taxiway] it would hit their airport building.”
The land falls into the “airport designation”, meaning QAC can undertake any airport-related project as of right.