Saturday, February 27, 2016

Alienation of dedicated Crown Land Public Reserves

In order to clarify the actions that caused the alienation of the dedicated Merewether Surf House Public Reserve and still could threaten the King Edward Headland Public Reserve we have prepared the following report: Twitter @Parksmovement

Access as a Public Right to King Edward Headland Reserve (KEHR) is the key to the future of the reserve which is an in-holding within the larger King Edward Park Newcastle NSW.  KEHR and Obelisk Hill which are integral parts of whole King Edward Park have been excised from the Council’s current Coastal Plan of Management 2014 which is similar to what happened with Merewether Surf House to facilitate development.

King Edward Headland Reserve was previously governed by a Crown Land approved Plan of Management which the Newcastle Council and the Regional Lands GM disregarded when assessing a recent DA.  They had previously also ignored the right of public access and the lawful use of the Merewether Surf House (Lot100/1130581) Public Reserve for its principal dedicated purpose of Public Recreation.

It is wrong however to draw a comparison between KEHR and Surf House Merewether thinking that one was assessed satisfactorily and the other wrongly. KEHR is a Public Reserve dedicated for Public Recreation and Surf House Reserve is a Public Reserve dedicated for the purpose of ‘Public Recreation’ too. Nevertheless an additional purpose “Tourist Facilities and Services” was clandestinely added to Surf House under Ministerial Delegated Authority by the regional General Manager of Crown Lands.

Merewether Surf House was a public Beach Pavilion located on Merewether beachfront land transferred to the Merewether Municipal Council on the 28th of November 1930 from the Merewether family for the cost of One Pound or $2.00 in today’s money. The Registered Deed No 944 Book 1617 includes the covenant that the Council will at all times maintain the land as ‘Public Parkland and no other purpose whatsoever’. Merewether Council was amalgamated with other Councils in 1938 to form ‘Greater Newcastle Council’ and Greater Newcastle was legally obliged as a successor to abide by the Deed of Gift and the Covernant.

By force of the above Deed the land was Community Land and controlled by a Newcastle Council Plan of Management under the Local Government Act 1993. That plan specifically provided for the restoration of the Surf Pavilion (Surf House).

The last Tate Newcastle City Council dishonoured the Covenant by allowing subdivision of the Surf House area from the gifted of part of the land and transferring it to the Minister for Crown Lands at no cost. The new parcel of land created Lot100 DP 1130581 and was leased to Sailors Rock Pty Ltd for adaptive reuse of the Surf House site and specifically removed from the Council’s Plan of Management for the Public Reserve.

That is the device used by Newcastle Council and the Minister’s Delegate to avoid the law and develop a large commercial facility that in no way resembles restoration of ‘Surf House’.

King Edward Headland Reserve is dedicated for ‘Public Recreation’ and could be threatened with the same fate of a subsidiary purpose under the Crown Lands Act being added in the future when people have forgotten the recent court case.

Eternal Vigilance is needed from the general public if Crown Land Public Reserves dedicated for ‘Public Recreation’ are to be lawfully managed and protected from vested interests.

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