Friday, November 27, 2009

2009 - 57th Annual Report of the Parks and Playgrounds Movement

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

57th Annual Report Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I must thank my committee for their tireless work in the past year especially our secretary Pat Hide and Treasurer Suska Scobie also committee members Helen Smith David Horkan David Griffin, Robyn Millington and Bev Southern.

Every conservationist knows of the threat of global warming to our environment. We have known of it since being warned in 1959 by Australia’s eminent CSIRO upper Atmosphere research scientist David F Martyn in his ABC lectures “Society in the Space Age”. We the people of this planet seem powerless to change our carbon footprint and bring human populations and their demands on earth’s resources into a sustainable pattern. Does our civilisation just have to wait for environmental disasters and be ready pick up the pieces?

We believe that conservationists must redouble their efforts to protect our local and regional environments for tomorrow’s people and support those leaders who are working to see we have a future global environment worth living in. I would say we have only this generation to become sustainable.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement have over its life dedicated itself to that task. We acknowledge the wider threats and we do what we can but as a Parks Movement are in despair that the hard day to day conservation work of stopping alienation of public lands and parks and protecting naturalness and supporting altruistic planning is being made more difficult by so-called reforms like Part 3A which are about facilitation for speculators and not planning.

The Movement has kept in touch with our colleague conservations in the peak organisations: National Trust of Australia the ACF and the Total Environment Centre the Nature Conservation Council. And we have continued to support the Save Our Rail people and the Port Stephens Environment Lobby. It is good to see your committee members at the Green Corridor meetings.

We have been particularly active on the University Coal River Working Party.

I have represented the Movement on the Fernleigh Track joint Committee with the Newcastle and Lake Councils and on the Newcastle Environmental Advisory Panel and the Green Point Reserve Committee. Newcastle has restructured its committees under two committees of the whole with ten advisory committees to be appointed. The Movement has not nominated for representatives on any of the ten committees but the new committee should review this.

To give you some idea with the problems of park alienation you need to look no further that Enterprise Park / Convict Stockade and the Foreshore at Lynches Prawns which were surreptitiously zoned for mixed commercial in the CBD LEP 2008. The new buildings at Fort Scratchley that had no Local Council approval and at the Merewether Beach Pavilion and Beach front land are matters indicating wrong conduct. These issues are reminiscent of the problems the community had at Green Point with the Cardiff Coal Company interlopers.

The extent of the Merewether Estate Old System Title Land including Beach Pavilion Site

This year was the 150 anniversary of Local Government in Newcastle. The Movement is disappointed that the Newcastle Foundation Monument concept has not progressed and is embarrassing that there is no public place dedicated to the foundation stories which are so mixed up in the public mind. We had proposed that the monument reflect the concept of the 1909 Borough Council Jubilee Monument (Coal Monument) by symbolising the four foundation stories. How can Newcastle present itself to the world if it is confused about its foundation.

* Muloobinbah – Aboriginal dreamtime and place of sea fern.
* Coal River 1797-Shortland’s discovery of ‘a very fine coal river’.
* Coal Harbour 1801–First settlement at Colliers Point
* Newcastle 1804-Permanent settlement established under Lieutenant C Menzies.

Councillors are the trustees of Enterprise Park at Watt and Scott Street which is a crown reserve R97943. They were appointed Trustee for the reserve and notified in the Gov. Gazette 23/11/90.
Enterprise Park was the first part of the Newcastle Harbour Foreshore Scheme landscaped and dedicated in 1986 to mark the centenary of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and Industry 1886 – 1968. These lands are held for the benefit of the General Public of Newcastle and the historic Convict Lumberyard actually extends into Enterprise Park. An amendment to the City Centre LEP 2008 to correct this matter is absolutely essential.

Enterprise Park and the Convict site perform important roles in the life of the City. The area provides a distinctive setting for the surrounding historic buildings and also protects the archaeological relics of early Newcastle. The park is well managed by Council in keeping with an approved Plan of Management. We want the Council act as true trustees and protect the parklands for the benefit of the City and the community.

The Movement reinvigorated its work on the corridors for conservation concept following the successful Judgment in the Gwandalan Action Group V Minister for Planning, which sets out a clear chronology of events. We also adopted the Newcastle Old Town Strategy which has been widely circulated. We must work hard in the New Year for a new lower Hunter Strategy and:

(a) Campaign to have the NSW State Government recognise and establish a biodiversity corridor for conservation from Stockton Bight through the Hunter estuary to the Sugarloaf Range, and a biodiversity corridor for conservation in the Wyong/Lake Macquarie buffer zone from the Wallarah Peninsular to the Watagans.

(b) Urge the NSW Government to amend the existing statutory Hunter Regional Environmental Plan 1989 and any future Lower Hunter Planning Strategy , to include these corridors as inviolate conservation zones and to dedicate Nature Reserves, National Parks Regional Parks and State Conservation Areas within these corridors.

(c) Reaffirm its support for the retention of passenger rail services to the historic Newcastle Railway Station and recommend to the NSW Government that the Regional Planning Strategy encourage urban development adjacent to railway stations in the rail transport corridor.

In response to the divisive HDC Renewal Report March 2009, Parks and Playgrounds Movement decided to promote the Newcastle Old Town Strategy. This strategy should not be construed to suggest that existing university facilities that relate to the Civic Area be relocated. However it does make it quite clear that we firmly believe that the Legal facilities should remain in the old town and that the rail must stay as part of a Transit Orientated future city and district and that the unique unity of the old town must be identified maintained and promoted.

Acknowledgement: Architectural illustrations by Charles Martin

Newcastle needs a City Strategy that combines the completion of the Area 1 of the 1981 Joy Cummings Newcastle Foreshore winning design public domain and the identification and promotion of Newcastle’s proud heritage and history and the formation of a Cathedral, University, and Legal sector within the Old Town Newcastle serving a modern transit orientated and multi centred Newcastle urban district.

The Movement notes that the URGE ‘United Residents for the Environment of Lake Macquarie’ is to disband. The Movement has been very active through URGE and well represented on their Management Committee. Our former Treasurer the late Jack Shield was Chair of URGE. However like many voluntary groups it has to fall to a small band of dedicated people to keep it working. Peter Morris the current chair and his wife Vicky have done sterling work with URGE and we wish them well for their hard earned rest and challenge ahead.

It was during Heritage Week 1987 (8/4/87) that the Movement called a Public Meeting at Warners Bay which was attended by over 200 people. That meeting established a working party to co-ordinate the many interest groups with concern for the welfare of the Lake Macquarie Environment and formulate a constitution. Another public meeting with over 200 people on the 24th of July, 1987 officially launched URGE.

On this 20th anniversary of the Newcastle Earthquake it is interesting to read the Aftermath Report I made for the Citizens Earthquake Action Croup and the Movement exactly one year after the event and the problems that faced the city and its people. The City was closed off, the railway was cut at Broadmeadow and the many buildings arbitrarily demolished. The issue was brought to a head with the George Hotel and the Carrington Chambers court injunction but the buildings were razed to the ground to prevent them being assessed by the National Trust heritage engineer Colin Crisp.

I thank my Committee and all members for their support and wish you well in the future.

Click here for the PDF version of this Report -
Click here for the TEXT only version of this Report -

Doug Lithgow
Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc

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