8 September 2022

Capital Public Golf Course closure reopens development debate

| Ian Bushnell
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Man on golf course

Capital Public Golf Course member Craig Owen hopes the course can still be saved from development. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Capital Public Golf Course members are furious at the shock announcement that the course will close at the end of the month after owner Sotiria Liangis decided to end the operator’s lease, opening the way for potential development on the Narrabundah site.

Members were told on Tuesday (6 September) that Liangis Investments Pty Ltd had chosen to conclude the five-year lease on 30 September 2022.

“We have sought confirmation whether another tenant will continue operations from 1 October 2022 but have been advised there is no confirmed operator,” the letter said.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank all patrons who have supported us the past 10 years.”

All enquiries were directed to Liangis Investments.

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Mrs Liangis, one of Canberra’s richest and biggest property developers, is reported to have said the current operator had been operating for free for the past five years and it was time for them to go.

She was also tired of paying water charges and troubleshooting issues with neighbours who complained about golf balls damaging their properties.

But members say the free rent was an arrangement she had agreed to with the operator Peter Kohlsdorf, who runs the Canberra International Golf Centre driving range, also owned by Mrs Liangis, across the road.

Golf course

A view from the first tee, where development would likely be expected.

Mrs Liangis won’t say what her plans are for the site, but it has long been seen as a development prize, although the government had thwarted previous attempts.

The move also comes as many golf clubs across Canberra are looking to develop their land to secure their future.

Long-time member Craig Owen said members feared Mrs Liangis would allow the 18-hole course, with one of the best putting practice greens in the ACT, to run down so she could develop the 30-hectare site.

He said she had been happy for the course to continue operating rent-free when she struck the lease deal, but times had changed.

“She said she’s sick of getting no money in for her investment, but that was her, not anybody else,” he said.

“We’re thankful for it. She told Peter he can keep running the show and keep it maintain and keep it going as it is. She was the one that said she was happy enough.”

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While membership has declined to about 175, Capital is the only public golf facility on the southside and is popular with social players.

Mr Owen said the loss of amenity would hurt and he did not know where these hundreds of social players would go.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s disappointing, I guess, but it does relate around money,” he said.

But Mr Owen said only one side of the course could be developed due to the water table, with the back nine area having a lake, bore area and a lot of underground water.

Golf course

The practice green is one of the best in Canberra.

The picturesque course also has many mature trees and looks in fine shape after a couple of favourable seasons.

If it is to be developed, the site will need to be rezoned from its current restricted access recreation zoning.

That zoning is defined as “accommodate facilities that will meet the recreational needs and demands of the community and are appropriately located for the potential users of the facility”.

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Mrs Liangis bought the site in 2011 from the Vikings Group, which cited ageing infrastructure, water and maintenance costs and declining revenue, but its development plans had also fallen foul of the ACT Government when Andrew Barr was planning minister.

Vikings had wanted to build high-density housing and community facilities on part of the course but could not get a rezoning approved.

Mrs Liangis had originally tried to buy the land in 2003 for $3.8 million, but Capital Golf Club members fended off the bid by approaching Vikings Group to purchase the course for $4.2 million.

The public golf course was established at the site in 1969, and Capital Golf Club was formed in 1978.

In 2014, Capital Golf Club members voted to wind up their club and leave the Narrabundah course after disagreements with Mr Kohlsdorf.

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The government should be encouraging the lessee to re-open the site as soon as possible or quickly surrender the lease. They and the libs should also make it crystal clear that this last piece of public green space in the this area won’t be redeveloped so any ideas in that respect are canned. Andrew Barr got this right last time and he and his government should be making clear what they will be doing to keep this green public space open.

HiddenDragon7:33 pm 09 Sep 22

“….but its development plans had also fallen foul of the ACT Government when Andrew Barr was planning minister”

The now Chief Minister should stick to his guns on this subject and put maximum public pressure on the ACT Liberals to commit to the same approach – just in case there is a thought that they might be more accommodating if they ever stumble into power.

If there is any future re-zoning it should only be done in a manner which ensures that every dollar of increased land value goes directly to the seriously under pressure ACT budget for the benefit of all Canberrans.

I don’t approve of golf courses – very environmetally unfriendly (lots of water usage, hebicides etc) and for the use of a few rather than the many. However, does Canberra need more development? Maybe, but only if it’s for affordable housing, well designed and environmentally friendly. The government seems utterly incapable of managing that, though. Far easier to sell to rapacious developers and trouser the profit.

Don’t we need land for a new football stadium……… Besides this same women was the one that complained a tree was getting in the way of her making a few million more as well. Hard to feel sorry for her, but she just thinks we all owe her and she can do whatever she wants and we should be grateful for what she builds.

Finagen_Freeman10:55 am 09 Sep 22

She’s been kind enough to let people use the land rent free. It’s her land. Let her build high density urban houses and the government can put a tram stop in. It’s only golf!

Not her land, it is only leased – such is the nature of all land in the ACT.

Time to hand the land back to the government. We do not need urban infill, we need to keep our green spaces green.

If she doesn’t want to operate the site as a community facility, then the government should resume the lease and either control the site themselves or give it to someone else who will.

If it’s not a golf course, it would make a great parkland.

How dare you try and get in the way of Ms Liangis and a dollar earned from long term Canberra land banking. ;- )

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