Saturday, February 19, 2011

Filching Public Parklands

Newcastle people should be very concerned at the efforts of certain interests over many years to filch public parklands

Newcastle people should be very concerned at the efforts of certain interests over many years to filch Newcastle’s public parklands for their own sectional or private use.

In recent years we have seen efforts to build around the Historic Nobbys Lighthouse in contravention of the Australian Constitution and the Commonwealth EPBC Act and by the misuse of the EP&A Act to allow the proponent to virtually approve own development. Merewether Beachfront Land was recently alienated for private Development contrary to the 1930 Deed of Conveyance from the Merewether family that the land be used for public parkland and no other use whatsoever.

Now part of King Edward Park Dedicated for Recreation Reserve in 3 July 1863 is in danger of falling to private hands under the title of ‘revitalising the coast’. We must now also try to ward off the private interests wanting to take part of Dixon Park for commercial uses. Dixon Park is another Merewether family owned land parcel transferred to Newcastle 1960 the deed is attached as a pdf.

Newcastle Council has before it in the form of a draft Civic Precinct Design Framework a proposal that would widen Laman Street into Civic Park remove the trees and the green terraced area and further despoil the Civic Park Fountain and its surrounds.

The Note below commencing ‘2/12/2008 Council Committee direct GM to sign a MOU’. That committee resolution was never adopted by full council and Council never properly authorised the expenditure to fund this new euphemistically titled Coastal Revitalisation Masterplan. (I did sight the committee resolution and searched in vain to find the adoption of the Minute) I found that that Committee was disbanded at the next Full Council Meeting.

The letter below was sent to the Minister for the Hunter and Member for Newcastle when we first heard about the attempts ant the MOU. No satisfactory explanation has ever been received to this letter which was sent on or about 13th of January 2010 12 months too late. A copy of the MOU was not made available.

I would be please if Colleagues would help get the word out about Public Parkland Alienation.

Cheers and best wishes

2/12/2008 Council Committee Pdf directs GM to sign Memorum of Understanding

MOU A pdf in Newcastle File

Mon 25/01/2010 12:21 PM Why a new secretly hatched Coastal Masterplan?

Minister Jodi McKay MP promotes a Masterplan for the Newcastle Coast (Letters The Herald 25/1/2010).

Parks and Playgrounds Movement warns the people of Newcastle: Beware!

The Coastal Masterplan MOU was signed by the Newcastle Council over twelve months ago but never officially adopted by full Council. The Masterplan has been hatched outside the normal transparent and open planning framework that has protected Newcastle beaches and its foreshore since statutory town planning began.

It is especially worrying when it is clear that alienation of coastal parkland is proposed. 

Our coast is a scarce and priceless resource held in trust by our councillors for all the people of NSW. Newcastle Council already has a fully researched an openly adopted Coastline Study and all its parks and reserves are subject to official plans of management with open processes for change.

Why is this covert masterplan being promoted by the State at the unnecessary cost to the people of Newcastle?

Doug Lithgow

The Hon. Jodi McKay MP
Minister for Tourism Minister for the Hunter
Minister for Science and Medical Research Minister for Women

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Dear Jodi

Bogey Hole, King Edward Park & Coastal Management

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is pleased to note your article ‘Coastal development to fund infrastructure’ in today’s Herald 12/1/2010 and the previous article by Cr John Tate Lord Mayor about the Bogey Hole and coast published in the Herald 8/1/2010.

Cr Tate indicated that the Bogey Hole and the coast are owned by the Government and Council needs assistance in its management and that the Newcastle Council gave the Land & Property Management Authority $150,000 to prepare a land use plan.

Our coast is a scarce and priceless resource which is held in trust for the people of NSW. Elected Councillors and Members of Parliament as Trustees are expected to do all in their power to protect that scarce resource for the benefit of all people and tomorrow’s people.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is concerned that the terms of reference for a new ‘Newcastle Coastal Masterplan’ and the basis for its preparation have not been transparently published.  Your article refers to a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) which to our knowledge has not been made public. Land use planning in the Hunter since 1952 has aimed to protect waterfronts from alienation and make them available for the public in coastal and foreshore reserves.

In regard to the Bogey Hole (SHR 1678) it is an integral part of the existing King Edward Park Crown Land parcel. It was formerly part of the 87 acres of the 2000 acre Coal grant to the AA Company retained by the Crown in 1824. King Edward Park including the Bogey Hole was dedicated for Public Recreation in March 1894. The Park has an absolute water frontage and Newcastle Council has exercised care control and management for the whole area since dedication.

We are pleased that the collapsed cliff top fence is now being reinstated and have requested that the safety chain around the pool be also restored. Furthermore we want the rusted out picnic tables to be replaced and the stairway to the pool be cleaned and drained at the side. These are simple day to day maintenance matters that do not need master planning.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement believe that it is important that a clear working relationship be maintained between the Department of Lands (Now named NSW Land & Property Management Authority) and the Newcastle Council as in the past.

However we must point out that we are appalled that Newcastle Council has allowed itself to be a party to a $300,000 dollar plan the reason for which seems to be aimed to alienate scarce coastal lands against the interests of the people of Newcastle. Your attention is also drawn to the Newcastle Council’s plans of management for its parks and the ‘Coastline Management Plan’ 2003. These adopted documents should be steering Council’s management of the coastline and attracting State Funding.

We would be especially pleased if you would make public the details of the Newcastle Council owned land at Merewether and the reason why it was transferred to the Minister for Lands by gift on 21st Aug 2008 (AE199231N) in contravention of the covenant running with the land. The Deed of conveyance clearly states “That it (The Council for its part and its successors and assigns) will at all times use and maintain the said land as a park or public reserve as defined by the Local Government Act 1919 and will not permit the same to be used for any other purpose whatsoever” (Book 1617 folio 944)

We request that you make available to the Movement a copy of the MOU and the terms of reference for the preparation of the Coastal Master Plan. Furthermore we trust that you will make sure that our coastal reserves and distinctive coastal heritage are protected from vested interests.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Lithgow
Freeman of the City of Newcastle
President, Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc 

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