Gold Creek Country Club director Harry Konstantinou has urged angry locals to be open-minded and work together to create something that will attract people to the area, as criticism of his plan to shrink the golf course continues.
Mr Konstantinou spoke to The Canberra Times on Sunday, shortly after about 500 people attended a Community of Nicholls Residents Group meeting at John Paul II College.
The crowd at the meeting, many of whom wore hats emblazoned with “Say no to rezoning in Nicholls”, loudly applauded politicians who signalled their intention to oppose rezoning of golf course land.
The Konstantinou Group has faced backlash since revealing it wants to roughly halve the size of the golf course and have 49 hectares of it rezoned for residential or other commercial redevelopment.
Mr Konstantinou, who watched Sunday’s meeting via a live stream, said he should be applauded rather than slammed for establishing a “people’s panel” to consult with the public before lodging a development application.
He said the golf course was not sustainable and that he could close it tomorrow or “go the traditional developer way” and lodge plans before seeking feedback, but he was committed to making the course work.
“At the moment, Gold Creek is a destination where you go and do something once a year,” Mr Konstantinou said.
“As much as people love Gold Creek, no one is successful there and that doesn’t make it sustainable for business.”
He said the Konstantinou Group had lost $8 million on the golf course in the last 12 years, including $550,000 last financial year.
With a $400,000 loss forecast this fiscal year, he said the equation was simple: increase revenues or cut costs.
Mr Konstantinou said with golf participation declining worldwide, shorter courses could reinvigorate the game like Twenty20 cricket had done for that sport.
He said a redeveloped course would still have 18 holes, but would drastically cut expenses like irrigation and fertiliser.
“Our position has not changed; we’ve been open since the beginning and said, ‘Look, the course doesn’t work,” he said.
“One of the plans is that we want to build things like amphitheatres, children’s playgrounds and bike paths.
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