In March 2020 the Rotorua Lakes Council revealed their vision  to build new sports fields and “low / medium & high density housing” on the Springfield Golf Course known as Westbrook Sports and Recreation Precinct. Here’s a map showing the streets and areas that would be affected if the proposal goes ahead. Rob Pitkethley, Sport, Recreation and Environment Manager at Council also wrote to and invited feedback from a few hundred local residents and ratepayers around the perimeter of the course. He stated:

Any final proposal will be form part of the submissions into the council’s 2021-2031 Long Term Plan, providing a further opportunity for community feedback.

The feedback received from the local community was overwhelmingly opposed to the concept. A group of concerned residents established Saving Springfield, opened a bank account to receive donations and membership fees, started the petition and created the Saving Springfield Golf Course private Facebook Group.

In May 2020 the Council announced that plans for the Westbrook Sports Precinct would be delayed until 2024. Jocelyn Mikaere wrote to the same local residents and ratepayers stating:

As a result, the proposed Westbrook Sport and Recreation Precinct project timeline will be extended for it to be considered for the next Long-Term Plan in 2024.

Although this seemed to be a welcome reprieve the Saving Springfield committee decided to continue their campaign regardless of the assurances from Council. Signs were erected around Springfield, public meetings were held and the Saving Springfield public Facebook Page was started. Paid online promotions that reached tens of thousands of Rotorua people, all to raise awareness in the community of the Council’s “vision” for Springfield. With the benefit of hindsight, it was a good decision to continue the campaign because …

In March 2021 the Council released it’s draft Long Term Plan (LTP) for 2021-2031 which, astonishingly, included a vague reference to “Westbrook”, but without providing any details.

Over the course of the ten years a total of $39.14 million needs to be secured and received from external sources for the Aquatic Centre ($10.43 million), Museum ($16.04 million) and Westbrook ($12.67 million).

Whereas the Aquatic Center had a full two pages devoted to the topic, Westbrook had none. If it wasn’t for the Independent Auditor’s Report at the end of the draft LTP who specifically mentioned the “Westbrook Sports Precinct”, it may have slipped past unnoticed – “under the radar”. A close examination of the draft LTP supporting documents (of which there were 10) we found two more brief references to “Westbrook”. The Ten-Year Capital Expenditure Programme showed that $61,229,000 had been budgeted for “Westbrook” and the Financial Strategy included the following paragraph on page 10

To provide the appropriate level of sporting facilities which can cater for both current and future demand, provide sustainable sports club facilities and improve utilisation of the Rotorua Stadium we are exploring the creation of the Westbrook sport and recreation precinct. This will see a number of widely spread sub-standard playing field areas replaced with higher quality fields catering for local users across a wider range of sports codes. It will also provide a tournament event venue to support high visitation events that have multiplier benefits for the district.

In April 2021 the Council ran seven “Community Conversations” in order to consult with the community about the draft Long Term Plan. Several members of the Saving Springfield committee attended the first on held at the Council Chambers only to be told that Westbrook was not a topic they wished to be consulted on.

On 19 April 2021 Saving Springfield, in conjunction with the Springfield Golf Club hosted the Mayor, six Councillors (Reynold Macpherson, Raj Kumar, Trevor Maxwell, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait & Fisher Wang at the Springfield Community Conversation, which was exclusively focused upon the Westbrook Sports Precinct. Around 170 golfers, residents and ratepayers attended and, apart from Council staff, nobody spoke in favour of the Council’s vision.

On 29th April 2021 we presented our petition to Council of 5,017 unique hand-written signatures to Council in support of the Springfield Golf Club’s application for an extension of their lease, which is due to expire in 2027. The petition request was:

That the Rotorua District Council recognise and declare the Springfield Golf Course to be a taonga (a treasure) to the people of Rotorua and that the land should continue to be leased to the Springfield Golf Club and used as a golf course.

Saving Springfield is an unincorporated society with about 50 financial members including many residents and members of the golf club. Our committee meets regularly to review our campaign and decide how best to spend our donations and membership fees. If you would like to make a donation or become a financial member, our bank account details are on our membership form.

We enjoy a very close relationship with the Springfield Golf Club who wish to have their lease with the Council extended for another 33 years.

We reject the Council’s proposal. We believe the is golf course is “the heart of Springfield”, a taonga, a treasure to be preserved in perpetuity for the people of Rotorua.

President: Don Paterson, Treasurer: Deanna Paterson, Secretary: Tanya Zohs, Founding President: Robert Lee, Other committee members: Robyn Cowley, Brett Fordyce, Daniel Lee, Adam Zohs.