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Avondale Racecourse

Community response to rezoning submission

We trust this page will serve a useful resource for understanding the Avondale Jockey Club’s submission to rezone the racecourse to terraced and apartment zoning, and what avenues are available for the broader community to have a voice in the decision-making process:

The government’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020 (amended in 2022) required council to enable more development and at least six-story buildings within walk-able catchments from the edge of Rapid Transit Stops.


In response to the above, Council proposed the Plan Change 78 (PC 78: Intensification).  The changes were proposed 18 August 2022, and submissions closed just over a month later on 29 September 2022.


Avondale Jockey Club placed a submission – dated 28th day of September 2022 – written by Ellis Gould partner Daniel Sadler, an environmental law, planning and local government specialist.  The submission calls for the rezoning of the entire 35 hectares of the racecourse to THAB zone, i.e. terraced and apartment housing.  No mention was made of the existing community use of the land.


Auckland Council (Council) appointed a Hearing Panel consisting of independent hearing commissioners. The Panel’s function is to hear the submissions on Plan Change 78 (PC 78) and make its recommendations to Council.  Hearing dates have been set for October/November 2024 [subject to change].  Only those individuals/groups who placed submissions before the close off date can be heard – not the public.


As background to this, it was The Messara Report commissioned by Racing Minister, Winston Peters released in August 2018, that recommended that 20 of New Zealand's 48 thoroughbred racetracks be sold so that these funds might assist in “providing a streamlined, modern and competitive thoroughbred racing sector capable of marketing itself globally.”  The report suggested that Avondale might be one of the tracks to close and the NZTR Venue Plan process has suggested similarly, despite the club’s apparent best efforts to retain racing at this site.  It is under these circumstances, that AJC has submitted to rezone its 35 hectares, which would act to raise the sale value of the land, for the benefit of the racing industry.


Eager to alert the public to the potential rezoning, Avondale Business Association held a public meeting on 28 March 2024 whereby Eryn Shields, the Team Leader of the Plans and Places Department at Council, explained the proposed plan changes.


In response to the proposed meeting above, New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and Avondale Jockey Club jointly released a press statement that both parties “will continue to seek a positive outcome for the Racecourse land and the Club that will benefit New Zealand racing participants and the wider Avondale community.”  This is certainly consistent with the jockey club’s stated Vision Statement that acknowledges that while it is in private ownership, the land was "gifted to the people of Avondale by the original landowners for the purpose of promoting thoroughbred racing."  And that "we are committed to ensuring local residents and community members, as well as the upper North Island racing community continue to have access to this land and the various facilities at Avondale Jockey Club."

In a Stuff article (14 April 2024), AJC president, Tracey Berkahn, reiterated that the jockey club is opposed to NZTR’s plan to only retain one race track in Auckland and club.  Nevertheless, they are being forced to consider all options to preserve their member’s interests.


“The club recognises what the Avondale community is saying and what should be preserved for west Auckland in relation to its land. The club will never support a situation where a community asset with a 130-plus-year history is transformed into future, urban blight.”


Berkahn said that the jockey club shares the concerns of the community around the potential loss of green space.


“We continue to maintain that a relatively high proportion of Avondale Jockey Club land be retained as open space for sports and recreation.”


However, the community notes that AJC placed the submission with no community consultation and with no public indication of same.  It is therefore justifiably concerned that AJC will also proceed with a comprehensive sale of the land without community consultation.


In a “Proactive release of Cabinet material regarding the Racing Industry Bill 2019” in December 2019, Rt. Hon Winston Peters, stated that any negotiation should consider “whether payments should be made from the proceeds to the local community if it has a valid interest in the surplus venue (e.g. arising from the community having contributed to its upkeep, or the use of the venue for community purposes that will no longer be possible).”  This is reiterated in the Racing Industry Act 2020, that states “the code must consider whether any action (for example, a payment) is warranted to recognise the community interest.”


The Avondale community has a vested interest in this land. 


Consequently, we seek a comprehensive vision for the Racecourse land if it is sold. One that acknowledges the community's stakeholding, and one that offers a forward-thinking precinct plan to ensure the best possible scenario for the broader community that includes the significant retention of green space.


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