Friday, December 9, 2011

Who is responsible for Council expenditure?

The Letter below was published by the Newcastle Herald 9th December. It should be made clear to everyone that Local Government Councillors can delegate some functions to their administration but they cannot delegate responsibility and they are barred especially from delegating financial responsibility. They cannot escape their legal responsibility although many do try to hide their responsibility by loudly claiming it is someone else’s fault. See Section 377 of the Local Government Act for matters that Council cannot delegate. DL.

Doug Lithgow

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Letters Editor
The Herald
Bolton Street

Dear Sir

Who is responsible for Council expenditure?

Letters (Newcastle Herald 7/12 The other belligerents ) suggests that the community is responsible for expenditures of the Newcastle Council. This is wrong.

The Local Government Act 1993 makes it mandatory that only Councillors have the power to vote for expenditure of moneys or set Council Rates. It is only Councillors that can be responsible and must be held responsible.

For instance, certain councillors consistently vote that the trees in Laman Street be felled knowing full well that the risk analysis has been challenged as being exaggerated and should be reviewed. Furthermore councillors know that the cost of removing the trees is in excess of one million dollars plus the further costs of unpublished and un-costed proposals for refurbishing the street.

Some councillors have clearly not acted responsibly.

Doug Lithgow
See Section 377 of the Local Government Act for matters that Council cannot delegate.


Some background to the Laman Street Trees Issue.

These documents provide information to show how Newcastle got into the 'Fig Fiasco'.

The aim now should be to close Laman Street, have it Classified 'Community Land' and save the trees within a Civic Park Plan of Management. But by the article in the Newcastle Herald it appears that Labor has pulled out of the Laman Street Issue.

Dear Colleagues,

Some points from history of council strategy to destroy the old trees at Civic.

The removal of older trees from the City began with General Manager Janet Dore. It was her policy and she employed a specialist to carry it out.

His name was Phil Hewett (just retired and kept on as a consultant I believe). The only thing that put a brake on the destructive tendencies was the Community Land provisions of the Local Government Act especially the Civic PoM that included Laman Street (Council owned Land) Civic Park Christie place and Church Walk Park as a unit. (Adopted by Council April 2000)

Janet’s policy is set out in general terms in her article in the Herald 26th Jul 2002. (See below)

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement have been involved in promoting conservation and protection of parks and landscape going back to the 1930’s.

Parks and Playgrounds voiced our objection to the Civic Framework Exhibition that included the Laman Street Plaza plan and the Under Laman Street Library building proposals that immediately threatened destruction of the Laman Street Figs and initiated the current crisis. It is all in the Design Framework documents the Council exhibited at the start of the year.

Great efforts have been made but the Newcastle Council remains intransigent and new directions are needed.

The last Council had all the opportunities to set clear goals to guide the next Council. It had 4 Greens and a strong ALP group.

When Newcastle got a New Council and a new Gen Manager, most Councillors were new and had never been to a Council Meeting. The new General Manager had been planted in the job also with no experience in Local Government. Somewhere there is the backing of the ALP right wing in the last days of a corrupt Government. The right wing undermined and felled Bryce Gaudry and planted Jodie also with no experience.

With all new directors in the Council and the right wing hatchet men in control what can happen?

The Truth, Transparency and fiscal intelligence have been the first casualties in this bazaar political melee.

I look forward to a shake up and I hope SOF continues to claim the high Ground. Out of his will come a few decent Councillors?


If you want a stating point re: removal of old trees including the Laman St Figs see the article below which was published in the Herald. It involves the newly appointed Arborist Mr Hewett.

It is nicely written but cannot disguise the intent to get rid of the veteran trees. Janet wrote the article after we challenged the Council for cutting down the first Fig in Civic Park. The Fig tree root in the electric cable trench that features on Council’s web site is from that first tree felled on the corner of Auckland and King Street. No doubt Council could claim to be using the Roads Act. However the real reason for that removal was for a new widened cement foot path around Civic Park which was part of the 2000 POM).

Old trees pay for past malpractice - Janet Dore  Newcastle Herald  Published: 26-Jul-2002

Newcastle City Council now faces difficult decisions about the management of old trees in a changing urban environment

While the city plans for future urban forests, Janet Dore explains why old plantings and old practices continue to cause problems.

As a city that prides itself on policies based on sustainability, heritage and culture, the removal of Civic Park's ageing fig was a difficult and sad task.

Newcastle City Council planted 4500 trees last year.

We are committed to providing urban forests that beautify our city, promote sustainability and protect public spaces for future generations.

Those thousands of trees planted last year will one day shade our grandchildren and their children.

Removing the fig in Civic Park has raised issues that as a community we all need to consider. Our city has changed and will continue to grow around trees planted many years ago.

So how should we manage veteran trees in an urban environment that has changed dramatically over their lifetime?

Newcastle has many hundreds of large mature fig trees on public and private land, most of which were planted between 60 and 80 years ago.

If we reflect on past tree maintenance practices, we will discover that most are no longer in vogue today.

For instance, it was common to cut the tops off trees, almost as if they were rose bushes, and then to continue lopping as a routine practice. At the time, lopping seemed to solve the problems of growing large trees in confined spaces.

What we have found today is that lopping exposes the inner wood of trees to the elements and the bigger the exposed area of wood, the greater the risk that decay will severely weaken the tree at maturity.

At the same time, branches that grow to replace lopped branches are poorly attached and prone to falling.

It was also common in the past to install infrastructure and other civil works by open trench excavation, regardless of the presence of tree roots.

Technology today allows us to bore underneath tree roots and to repair infrastructure such as cables and pipes without open trenching.

However, since trees may take many years to decay, past work damaging the tree is often forgotten.

It has been suggested that we look to the issue of figs in Hyde Park, Sydney, and adopt a similar approach. However, this is comparing apples to pears.

The figs in Hyde Park have enormous space for root stability and have grown on a sandstone soil base. Their stabilising roots have found support in rock sandstone fissures.

By comparison, the figs in Newcastle have to contend with soils built of industrial waste with considerably less space to develop stable root systems.

This is not an issue unique to Newcastle. The management of veteran trees has become problematic for communities in Sydney and Melbourne and internationally. For this reason, a focus on urban tree management has become critical for future sustainability.

Unfortunately, urban living puts stress on our trees. A tree that may live many hundreds of years in natural conditions can reach its aged life after a mere 80 years in urban conditions.

The tree removed from Civic Park last weekend illustrates the problems we have in dealing with our past practices.

So, how should we be treating our trees in the future?

Newcastle City Council has introduced a pro-active approach to selection, maintenance and replacement of our urban trees.

We have surveyed 53,000 street trees and recorded their statistics on a database. We are currently auditing these trees, identifying their maintenance needs and setting an inspection regime for each tree.

We are also investigating the benefits of looking at the trees of Newcastle as an urban forest. An urban forest is simply the total of trees and large shrubs that grow on public and private land in any urban area.

Urban forests contribute significantly to quality of life for urban residents, by capturing stormwater, shading bitumen and buildings, reducing the risk of skin cancer and absorbing fine pollution particles that affect asthmatics.

Newcastle City Council is presently working with the Local Government Association to review software for calculating the benefits of urban forests. We are also developing a more integrated approach to design of new infrastructure so that civil works and trees do not come into conflict in the future.

Newcastle City Council will continue to plant trees in the city and manage these responsibly. Our tree selections have been made with due regard for the future and we do not anticipate the next generation of Novocastrians will have to experience the unexpected and heartbreaking loss of its veteran trees.

Janet Dore is general manager of Newcastle City Council.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Open Letter to the Honorable Barry O'Farrell MP

Open Letter to the Honorable Barry O' Farrell MP,
Premier of NSW

Dear Premier

Plan of Management identified Trees: Civic Cultural Precinct - Newcastle

The State must intervene at Civic Newcastle because of the Council's wrong conduct in inappropriately using Sec.88 of the Roads Act to clear Laman Street for widening into Civic Park to progress an unortherised development.

Every park in Newcastle is governed by a Plan of Management (PoM) indeed every public park in NSW has a PoM. This is a statutory requirement under the Local Government Act 1993. Crown Reserves in Newcastle like King Edward Headland Reserve have a PoM under the requirements of the Crown Lands Act.

Newcastle Council is morally and legally bound to respect the official plans of management and only approve complying developments. If a Council wishes to carry out other developments they must lawfully amend the PoM.

This machinery is there to bring a transparent and open approach to the management of public lands and parks and to give citizens a chance to make formal input with an independent public hearing.

The PoM for the Civic Cultural Precinct identified the Fig Trees in Laman street as a principal landscape feature and to be only subjected to minor pruning to maintain the vista.

By invoking the Roads Act to circumvent the provisions of the PoM and remove these significant trees is wrong conduct as there are no road works being done and there is no credible traffic hazard.

Newcastle Council should be caring for the trees and carrying out minor pruning as required by the Plan of Management.

Newcastle needs help to provide an independent risk assessment of the trees because the Council's risk reports are extravagantly exaggerated to justify a basis for invoking the Roads Act S88.

The people of Newcastle are outraged and need honest help.

Yours Sincerely

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

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Newcastle City Council ‘Civic Precinct Design Framework’ & Laman Street

The Design Framework for the Civic Precinct included many proposals including those illustrated below. They were bundled into a confusing item in the Council Resolution of the 17th ‘of August 2010 that caused the current problems at Laman Street Trees.

Now a year later, after more than $200,000 Dollars have been wasted and the Community’s trust and confidence in the Council shattered it Council hasn’t resolved what it is trying to do.

Laman Street is part of the approved plan of management for all the council owned land in the Civic Precinct. This land includes Civic Park, Laman Street, Christie Place and Church Walk Park. The management Plan controlling the area was adopted by Council in 2000 and is still the official plan. The Laman Street Trees are charted on the official PoM.

There is a lawful process for amending the Plan.  It requires the public exhibition of the amended plan and the invitation of public comment and transparent resolution of the plan.

Newcastle has never formally included its framework ideas into the official POM for the Precinct. Ideas including a Library under Laman Street have been touted.  (See below)

This proposal would require massive earthworks in Laman Street and the destruction of the fig trees to create a widened plaza extending into the park


Sunday, September 18, 2011


Councillor Bob Cook
Newcastle City Council

Dear Bob,

Open Letter in the public interest to Councillor Bob Cook

You have placed yourself in the position of chief advocate for the destruction of the Laman Street Landscape and Architect and engineer of a scheme to level Laman Street. It would be much better if you were to honour and respect your elected role as an unbiased Councillor prepared to impartially review the evidence the citizens of Newcastle wish to place before you. You so openly show your bias even to the extent of arguing against independent assessment to protect certain staff and other experts from 'potential reputational damage'.

I note in the press you seem to be considering litigation. The Law is a blunt instrument Bob, as we found out last year. The court would not allow us to place before it, the professional evidence regarding the exaggerated risk reports Council was using. No matters of merit were allowed to be argued. Council won their case by arguing that the S88 of the Roads Act was a stand alone law and the General Manager by using S88 in this instance was not required to consider the provisions of any other Act. She only had to form the opinion that the trees were a Hazard to traffic in Laman St..

The situation is entirely different now and S88 of the Roads Act is an inappropriate instrument to use in designing a landscape future for Civic Park and Laman Street. You can't realistically claim a hazard to traffic now.
The 3 trees cut down after the Pasha Bulker Storm had not been blown over as claimed and the 14 trees currently being considered have not fallen over in the last twelve months.

Too many citizens now know that Council cannot in good faith rely on the earlier unscientific and exaggerated risk claims of the past and must obtain an independent assessment.

I do also wish to remind you that you, no doubt unwittingly, caused  confusion in the first instance by bundling risk assessment with your advocacy of your own development proposal for the levelling of Laman Street and extending it into Civic Park.

With development proposals there is a simple rule that should be followed: Developments require an approved Development Application and Assessment. Council's own Developments of course require an independent assessment. Furthermore if you wish to develop Community Land you are required to ensure that your development complies with the official Plan of Management and if it doesn't you must seek to change the Plan of Management in a lawful way.

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement is a pubic interest body and we would suggest that you take a step back from this issue and allow independent assessment. You are going to have to ultimately submit your Development Proposal if it is brought the Council to public scrutiny and independent assessment.

Yours sincerely
Doug Lithgow President Parks and Playgrounds Movement

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


From Doug Lithgow to Newcastle City Councillors and News Editors

You are no doubt aware that Newcastle has hot summer days and that the people of Newcastle appreciate the shade and beauty of the cathedral arch of the Laman Street Trees.

To understand the Laman Street issue

You must first ask yourself:

1. Do you want to develop Laman Street?

2. Do you have an idea of the way you would like it developed?

3. Do you need to remove trees to develop the area in the way you wish?

4. Does the development you propose require the alteration of Council’s Plan of Management: Civic Precinct “Heritage Places Strategic Plan published by Council 1/6/2000?

Were you able to answer ‘yes’ to any of the four questions?

If you were able to answer ‘Yes’ to any of the questions then a Development Application (DA) and an Assessment of your proposal is required by law.

Why is Council able to disregard the law?

Only by pretending that there is no development proposed and by claiming that the trees are a hazard to traffic and have to be summarily removed.

If Council told the people of Newcastle officially about a specific development that was adopted they would have to prepare a Development Application and have a transparent assessment. Council would then not be able to use s.88 of Roads Act to escape lawful Public Exhibition and Assessment.

Public probity demands that an independent assessment of the risk factors is needed to assess the unscientific inflated risk reports relied on by Council. Any development proposed will offcourse require a lawful DA.

All Councillors should be demanding a transparent independent reassessment of the Hazzard or risk?

From Doug Lithgow President Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc.
Phone 49431781 Mobile 041922 6897

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where is the DA for Laman Street?

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to request our supporting Councillors to move in council as a matter of urgency that a Development Application be prepared for the proposed redevelopment of Laman Street which may involve the removal of the trees and the planting of new trees in different locations together with ancillary works new pavements and new grades? It is important that the new developments proposed do not affect the Civic Park Community Land or the curtilage of the famous Civic Park Fountain designed by Margel Hinder. With all the Council spam over the past 18 months there has never been a detailed plan or DA that could be professionally assessed. Just vague proposals and lies about trees falling over in Laman Street and exaggerated danger claims.

This would mean that a proper plan showing what is actually proposed would have to be made and open for public display. The 'Cook' Plan recently published illustrated massive reshaping of the streetscape to make a flat surface at the floor level of the Cultural Centre and widening into the Civic Park which would have a major effect on the Fountain and its curtilage and the Memorial Grove.

Proper plans showing finished levels pavement treatment and planting positions for new trees are essential. Any effect on Community Land would automatically trigger the Community Land provisions of the Local Government act: which incidentally Council has been trying to get around with the unreal danger argument and undocumented proposals since day one. 


Doug Lithgow

Monday, July 4, 2011

King Edward Headland Reserve Newcastle
The Headland Reserve is in King Edward Park Newcastle's Premier Park 1863

Development Application No. 10/1735 (Amended Plan)

1 Ordinance St Newcastle

Development application 10/1735 for land at King Edward Headland Reserve No.1011189 . The Parks and Playgrounds Movement placed an objection to the earlier DA which is still relevant to the amended Development Application and this submission is in addition.

We reaffirm that Council has a responsibility to make sure that the official plan of management is implemented for this important Headland Crown Land Reserve. The current DA submitted by Annie Street Commercial P/L as amended, fails to meet the vision and objectives of the official Plan of Management. It does not suitably address the management strategies as set out in the plan 3.14 and it fails to respond to the design principles which have been embodied into the Concept Plan 4. and the Park Reserve Concept Plan illustrated in the Plan of management (Page 37).

Above: Park Reserve Concept Plan King Edward Headland Reserve Plan of Management

The development of this Headland Public Reserve is of great concern to the people of Newcastle and the Hunter Region and the detail and principles of the official Plan of Management must be applied to any proposed development of the reserve.

The current DA should be rejected and the proponent asked to prepare a new DA that allows unfettered public access to the scenic Ocean and Parkland views from the Headland Public Reserve along the southern boundary as clearly required by the official Plan of Management and by the published call for Expressions of Interest documentation (below).

King Edward Headland Reserve 1011189 comprises Lot 3109 DP755247 and is a Crown Reserve dedicated for Public Recreation by notice in the Government Gazette of the 23 December 2005, Folio 11250. In the same Gazette the Management Corporation Lands Administration Ministerial Corporation was established as the Trust for the King Edward Headland Reserve. (Gov. Gaz. 23 Dec. 2005 Folio 11250)

Lot 3109 DP755247 was formerly occupied by Newcastle City Bowling Club under a Special Lease 64-46 (Bowling greens and clubhouse) subject to conditions Notified NSW Gov Gazette Feb 1966 Folio 963. The Crown Survey Plan registered 18/2/1963 N. 8454- 2111 charts Lot 3109 as an in-holding within the boundary of King Edward Park dedicated for recreation in1863. The whole Park was further dedicated for Public Recreation as King Edward Park 10th March 1894 and the headland reserve land again dedicated for public recreation in 2005. The land has always been zoned for Open Space and Recreation since planning began in the Northumberland County.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Newcastle Heritage Corridors

The schematic diagram above links the Newcastle Heritage Precincts with identifiable Heritage Corridors, and I have used some of Charles Martin’s line drawings from the Heritage Guide Map Charles prepared for the National Trust.

Newcastle Heritage Corridors:

- Harbour Foreshore Heritage Corridor – Lee Wharf, AA Coy. Wharf Queens Wharf,
- Transport Heritage Corridor -Rail and Road transport Spine: Newcastle Railway Station Signal Box.
- Coal River Heritage Corridor - Convict Lumberyard, Nobbys, Macquarie Pier, Convict Mines, Fort Scratchley, Coal River Precinct,
- Pacific Park Heritage Corridor – Newcastle Beach, Ocean baths, Royal Newcastle Hospital.
- Government House Heritage Corridor – Convict wharf, Customs House, Council chambers Coal Shafts.
- Courthouse Heritage Corridor – Newcastle Post Office, Newcastle Herald Building Cohen Warehouse, Grand Hotel, Newcastle Courthouse, Fletcher Hospital, King Edward Park
- Cathedral Heritage corridor – Queens Wharf, Market Square, Cathedral Cemetery, Christ Church Cathedral, Obelisk Hill.
- Civic Heritage Corridor – Maritime Centre, Museum, Civic Station, Civic Theatre, City Hall, Civic Park, Capt. Cook Fountain, Cultural Centre.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Draft Laman Street Civic Precinct Design Framework. Objection

Mr Rob Noble General Manager
Newcastle Council PO Box 489 Newcastle 2300

Attention Mr Ian Rhodes.

Dear Mr Rodes,

Draft Laman Street Civic Precinct Design Framework. Objection

The movement is pleased that Council has exhibited the Draft Design Framework that Council had developed last year. As you know we believed that the Draft Framework should have been exhibited before precipitous action was taken to remove the Laman Street group of trees.

These trees are much loved by the people of Newcastle and are the principal landscape feature in the Civic Precinct.  Council has on a number of occasions been preparing proposals for the Civic Precinct (Cultural Precinct) and all of the proposals have identified the importance of the landscape structure the Ficus trees provide. The Draft Laman Street Civic Design Framework is the first proposal that has focused on the removal of this important landscape feature. The argument of Risk Management has been poorly assessed and there has emerged another reason subsequent to the recent costly and unnecessary litigation in the Land and Environment Court.

Your attention is drawn to the ‘Internal Memo’ sent to all Councillors from the Executive Leadership Team 23 Sep 2010 signed by Judy Jaeger with the Subject Title ‘Commemorating the Anzac Centenary’.

It is rather disconcerting for a community group that has positively worked in the public interest for this city since 1952 to feel that the Civic Charrette was a charade and that Council had the proposals already formed which were not stated openly. As a member of the Charrette I was at the time concerned that we were going over the ground that many councils had previously identified. However there was one vaguely expressed proposal that really alarmed me concerning the building of an underground entrance into the Library.

It was put by the Facilitator and glossed over Judy Jaeger. I rejected the idea outright at the Charrette because even though I was not privy to the proposal that the Leadership Team was obviously preparing, I could see all the aesthetic and engineering imponderables hidden in the idea. Not to mention the problems with the Civic Park Fountain, the removal of the Memorial Grove and cutting the established Civic Axis and the destruction of the principal landscape feature the Laman Street Trees.

Of course the Parks and Playgrounds Movement want to see a high standard of Landscape and a unified scheme for the precinct. Our actions since 1968 when we prepared the first concept for the Civic Area are clear public evidence of our bona-fides. We have positively commented on every proposal for the area that Council has brought to the public.

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement is conscious that the elected Councillors are the current trustees of Civic Park for the general public and we are pleased to submit the document Civic Park – Civic Precinct Design Framework 24/2/2011 as a contribution to help advise their guardianship. We would be pleased to make further submissions as required.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Lithgow
Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011



Alienation of Crown Land
1 Ordnance Street Newcastle -Newcastle City Bowling

Application for a Private Commercial  Function Centre with 41 Car spaces;
Hours 7am -midnight, 7 days a week.
Facilities for 500 people.

Once again Newcastle is threatened with inappropriate development.

The former Newcastle Bowling Club is part of King Edward Park and forms part of the Hill Heritage Area. The club existed from the end of the 19th Century, and in 1966 was granted a lease in perpetuity as long as it remained a bowling club. Approval for parking was never given.   It is zoned RE1, which prohibits the building of a function centre.

The area has been allowed to deteriorate, so that the enormous value of this site is obscured. It is a landmark site with magnificent views that anyone who has lived in or visited Newcastle will have appreciated.

The proposed building which claims to be on the original foot print is approximately three times the size of the original building and of a considerably larger volume. Viewed from the south, the two storey structure will present a severe visual intrusion into the park compared to the previous single storey building.  A small kiosk at the S.E. end of the proposed structure is the only part accessible to the public.  The rest of the building will be used for private functions. This is contrary to the principles of Crown land management.

This site should be returned to the Park for the enjoyment of all.

Our convict and colonial heritage is reflected in this site as it was here that the Nation’s first coal shaft was sited in the 1820s. With the old Government House, the James Fletcher site (that housed the Military Barracks and the first Hospital) and the Park, this precinct is important to all Australians.

Consultation with the community found that the community wanted the land returned to the park or at most, minimal development. However, these views were overruled in favour of the commercial alternative.  A Plan of Management was produced by the Lands Department in 2007. It is interesting that the Government’s own Plan of Management still proposed a much smaller development than the current proposal. The Current DA does not relate in any way to the Plan of Management.

Strong community support is essential in combating this proposal. You can help by adding your name and address to the objection letter on the back and by mailing or e-mailing to:

The Hon. Tony Kelly, Minister for Lands, Level 31, 1 Farrer Place, Sydney 2000, or
( )

Please be quick: Also note that the Minister takes more notice of individual letters than they do of form letters. If you have time, write your own letter.
It is important to forward a copy of your letter to:

The Premier of NSW (
The Hon Jodi McKay PO Box 1816 NCLE 2300
The Lord Mayor Cr John Tate, City Hall, Newcastle 2300
The Leader of the Opposition
The Shadow Minister

The Honourable Tony Kelly
Governor Macquarie Tower, Level 34, 1 Farrer Place Sydney 2000

Dear Sir

Re: DA No 10/1735 No 1 Ordnance Street

 I am deeply concerned about the above proposal. In spite of this application being put before the people over the Xmas holiday period and Council’s failure to advertise it on its Web page, hundreds of objections were submitted.

This priceless site is dedicated park land; Crown Land since 1863 and part of the Hill Heritage Area. It is zoned RE1 which prohibits the building of a function centre. When the bowling club failed, and its lease was revoked, the site should have been incorporated into King Edward Park according to the terms of that lease. Any future use should serve the Park and allow the Public unfettered access according to the principles of the Crown Land Act.

We ask that you re-examine the Conclusions of the Plan of Management (2007) which states that the community wanted the land returned to the park, or a development within the scale of the bowling club buildings.

We would like you to investigate why the Annie Street P/L proposal was awarded the tender when, without good reason, it deviates so far from the Expression of Interest.

This function centre holds 500 function guests and is available from 7am to Midnight every day.  Its footprint (understated in the DA) is almost twice the size stipulated in the POM and almost three times the footprint of the old bowling club. It relies on street parking. The Public has access to a small Kiosk on the S.W corner with limited views.

The State Government has a responsibility to the community to ensure that the DA currently before the Council complies with the Plan of Management and that the Plan of Management reflects the views of the community. The consultative process between State, Local Government bodies and Community Groups should be respected. The developer has ignored the constraints imposed by these documents, adding fuel to the fire of public resentment to the perceived and well publicised unsavoury relationship between Government Instruments and developers.

We ask that any lease agreements or MOUs you have with the proponent should be held- over or cancelled so that the matter can be reconsidered. 

Yours Faithfully

Sunday, February 20, 2011

King Edward Headland Reserve DA 10-1735 Letter to General Manager

Mr Rob Noble
General Manager
Newcastle City Council,
PO Box 489

3rd February 2011 with supplementary document 16.02.2011

DA 10/1735
King Edward Headland Reserve for Public Recreation within King Edward Park Newcastle.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement resolved at our January Meeting to submit an objection to the Development Application 10/1735 for No.1 Ordinance Street Newcastle, Proposed Function Centre Kiosk and associated carparking and landscaping with an exhibition period: 29 Dec to 3rd Feb.

The Movement has a long association with the Newcastle City Bowling Club and was party to the campaign to have the 1967 perpetual lease of the site revoked because of the irregularities in the running of the club and the fact that there had not been a bona- fide bowling club operating for many years.

Copy of P&PM Inc Letter re the alienation of the Park and irregularities re the Lease

Saturday, 7 July 2001
The Honourable Richard Face MP
Minister for Gaming and Racing and
Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development
23 Smith Street
Charlestown 2290

Dear Richard,

Newcastle Bowling Club Licences – King Edward Park

Parks and Playgrounds Movement has requested that the Minister administering NSW Crown Lands to revoke the 1965 lease of the Newcastle City Bowling Club and return the land to King Edward Park and people of Newcastle. We trust that you will agree with this aim.

Newcastle Bowling Club which has been occupying the leased area of the Newcastle City Bowling Club has been in financial trouble and in the hands of a Receiver for sometime. It was recently voted that it be placed in liquidation. Two applications are currently before the Liquor Administration Board, one to change the name of the club back to Newcastle City Bowling Club (App No 196544 15/6/01) and the other for the appointment of a liquidator (App No 196644 19/6/01).

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is opposed to the transfer of Club Liquor and Gaming Machin e Licences to the Newcastle City Bowling Club and we seek the abandonment of the existing club.

King Edward Park is Newcastle’s premier coastal parkland dedicated for public recreation 1894

The official lease for Newcastle City Bowling Club was granted in 1965 with the condition that the leased area be used for “bowling club buildings and recreation, bowling greens”.

The land is crown land and is zoned for open space and recreation.

We believe that the Newcastle City Bowling Club is no longer a bona-fide bowling club and that the lease should be revoked and the area revert to King Edward Park.

Members of the Bowling Club have alleged that the directors of the club have not notified members of meetings and have acted in a manner that has not been in the interests of the club.

We request that a public hearing be held before any transfer of the licence is contempt.

The Movement would be pleased if you could establish an inquiry into the activities of the club and ensure that this important part of King Edward Park is not permanently alienated.

Yours sincerely,

Doug Lithgow
Parks and Playgrounds Movement

The 40 acre Reserve which was to become King Edward Park was gazetted for Public Recreation 16 July 1863, on the request of the Newcastle Borough Counc il. The alienation of Newcastle’s premier park is of great public importance and deserves close scrutiny.

We base our objections on the heritage of the Park and the convict mining History.

· The previous submissions re the termination of the Bowling Club Lease.
· The Newcastle Coastal Study 2003
· Our concerns with the Coastal Revitalisation Doc.
· The Plan of Management 2007
· The Expressions of Interest Doc 2008
· The failure of the proponent to meet the spirit of the documents and the need to integrate any development into the King Edward Park of which the Headland Reserve is an inholding.

The Parks and Playgrounds Movement submits this letter as a statement of objection and we reserve the right to forward a detailed submission early next week when members have had more time to attend the Council Administration Centre to see the documents We are disappointed that they are not easily accessible.

Yours sincerely

Doug Lithgow
President Parks and Playgrounds Movement.

Attention Wesley Wilson Senior Development Officer:
Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc hereby submit this 7 page submission in the public interest and without any pecuniary interest whatsoever.

King Edward Headland Reserve – Mar 2010 showing former Club Buildings

King Edward Headland Plan of Management - Concept Plan (Aug 2007)

King Edward Headland Reserve: Ugly club buildings removed (Oct 2010)

King Edward Headland Reserve No R.1011189 Plan of Management - Concept Plan (Aug 2007)

Proposed Function Centre wrongly located to dominate reserve and coastal scenery
– Southern Elevation.

King Edward Park – Former Bowling Club Building dominating the Park – 2005.

King Edward Park including the Headland Reserve dedicated for Public Recreation.Parish Map 1916 Note Watt Street Park Entrance, Park Drive and Bowling Green.

 Entrance Gates to King Edward Park donated by Joseph Wood to mark 50 years in Newcastle. Officially opened 1907. Note entrance and location of the Park Drive on Parish Map above.

Important public walkway and promenade linking and integrating the Headland Reserve and the King Edward Park and Fletcher Park. Formal concept featured in Plan of Management. 

General Layout contrary to PoM provides no pedestrian promenade vantage points

Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc. believes that the principle matter that is required to be considered in the assessment of development application DA 10/1735 is that the layout proposed is contrary to the intention of the Plan of Management for King Edward Headland Reserve No.1011189. The PoM is dated August 2007 and the concept plan summing up the provisions of the plan is located at the end of the Plan of Management document.

Subsection 114 (2) of the Crown Lands Act states.

(2) If a plan of management is adopted:
(a) the reserve trust shall carry out and give effect to it, and
(b) no operations may be undertaken on or in relation to the reserve unless they are in accordance
with the plan.

Council Council’s attention is drawn to the fact that Reserve 1011189 for public recreation is controlled by an adopted plan of Management and that the PoM is relevant to the provisions of the Newcastle Council LEP 2003 and the Draft LEP should be considered. The diagram in the Expressions of Interest reiterates the principles underlying the Plan of Management concept plan.

Heritage of the Park and the convict mining History.

The function centre as proposed is principally a private commercial venture sited in a position contrary to the PoM that denies the public the right to its headland reserve and public vantage points.

The development proposal does not relate to the development to the cultural needs of the Newcastle community or address the interpretation of the unique military and convict colonial mining heritage of the site. Special acknowledgement should be made in the development to the Aboriginal cultural heritage of the location known to the aboriginal people as Yi-ran- na- li.

The earlier park entrance with its ornamental gates donated to the Newcastle Borough Council by Joseph Wood and the alignment of the carriageway should also be reflected in the layout.

Furthermore the location of the original Bowling Green and Club House as shown on the part of the 1916 Parish Map enclosed should be integrated in the design.

Failure to address these significant principles together with a layout that does not truly develop the headland reserve as a place of public recreation with public vantage points is sufficient reason to reject the current design. Council is also reminded that the Headland Reserve is within Newcastle ’s premier Public Park originally dedicated and notified in the Government Gazette July 16 1863 folio 1545 on the request of the Municipal Corporation of Newcastle conveyed to the NSW Legislative Assembly by Mr Hannell MLA Newcastle’s first Mayor.

The importance of this significant site and of the requirement to conserve the natural advantages and character of the land for the enjoyment of the general public cannot be overstated. The current proposal would permanently alienate the reserve the coastal scenery and deny the general public full
access to their reserve.

The former Bowling Club Lease was revoked because of the corrupt operation that had been allowed to develop and because the Club had not been operating within its lease conditions. It was in conflict with the reserve dedication, the local community and the Department of Lands.

We believe that Council and Trust Managers are obliged to follow the sound concepts of the Plan of Management in accordance with the Crown Lands Act 1989.

The Newcastle City Bowling Club had occupied and enjoyed a privileged position in the park but there has not been a Bowling Cub for many years and the derelict buildings were allowed to dominate the King Edward Park for far to long. We object to the erection of new buildings contrary to the Concept Plan that would dominate the King Edward Park to an even greater extent than the former dilapidated buildings.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement is pleased to submit supplementary information and illustrations to further explain our objections by reference to the points made in our principal objection submitted by Email on the 3rd of February 2011 and kindly acknowledged by Senior Development Officer Wesley Wilson 8/2/2011.

The Movement thanks the Newcastle City Council for the opportunity to comment on the Development Application 10/1735 for the dedicated King Edward Headland Reserve.

Yours sincerely

Doug Lithgow
Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Closure of David Jones

The closure of the David Jones store in the Citycentre of Newcastle this weekend is further evidence that Newcastle's Revitalisation strategy may be wrong.‏

The letter enclosed was published in the Newcastle Herald recently and answered by Councillor Buman but he missed the point that David Jones had been trading in the area for more than 50 years and GPT was never more than a vision.

Please look at the enclosed Herald cutting from 1988 establishing the Citycentre and the Local Rate.

The City has been aggressively hammering the same rail target for more than twenty years.

Yet City Rail has been bringing the same number of passengers to the city with a modest increase every year at no cost whatsoever to the city ratepayers.

The visions of rail removal are just visions unless there is an economically viable replacement.

The citycentre local rate mentioned in the article has been collected for revitalisation probably to the tune of many millions of dollars with little effect.

By 1992 $399.000 plus was being collected annually.

Is there something wrong with our revitalisation strategy? The loss of David Jones may be evidence of that.

I ask each and every Councillor to examine: are funds being collected by the CBD Local Rate and how are they being expended?

Letters Editor
Newcastle Herald

Friday, 28 January 2011

Dear Editor,

RE: The closure of the David Jones store in the Citycentre.

The closure of the David Jones store in the Citycentre of Newcastle is evidence that Newcastle’s Revitalisation strategy lost its way.

Newcastle has been revitalising in earnest for twenty years now. The news report of June 1988 summarised the revitalisation vision that Honeysuckle embraced in their approved scheme four years later.

“Newcastle’s central business district (CBD) was renamed Citycentre and aggressively promoted, with money raised by way of a local rate.  High-rise apartments a privately funded Technical College with fee-paying students from overseas and federal offices were among the high priority proposals aimed at getting the City back on its feet”. An extra department store was to be established but now there is to be none.

It seems that far too much hope and money has been expended on pursuing ponzi visions of railway removal rather than sound incremental commercial development.

Ratepayers may ask has the money collected from the local rate for revitalisation been wisely spent.

Doug Lithgow

Bogey Hole

The Honourable Jodi McKay MP

Minister for Tourism
Minister for the Hunter
PO Box 1816, NEWCASTLE NSW 2300

Dear Jodi,

You asked me to have a look at the LPMA proposal and comment re the Bogey Hole. I am sorry that I have only been able to get back to you at this time.

It is all a bit over the top as I said and unnecessary but thanks for arranging for me to see the proposal.

What is really needed is the repair of the stairway and renewal of the hand rails. This old photo shows the stairs when they were new and they just need renewal now. Note the handrail at the old dressing shed or cubicle level. That hand rail needs to be reinstated with access to the rock platform.

Regular maintenance is needed in such proximity to the ocean. The platform proposed is likely to be more dangerous that no platform.

The ocean side safety chain of course should have been replaced when the Council broke it.

You may have noted that all of Newcastle’s safety fences need renewal: Shepherds Hill the Obelisk etc. Thank goodness the fence above the bogey Hole has been repaired now.

Doug Lithgow
President, Parks and Playgrounds Movement Inc.

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 

King Edward Park Proposed Development

King Edward Park - Annie Street Commercial Pty Ltd do not have a lease or any tenure re: DA Function Centre on Former Bowling Club Site

Certainly the old convict Coal Mine Shaft (one of the earliest coal shafts in the country and southern hemisphere) should be accurately located opened and properly documented?

The proposal to cap it and hide it under a building should be rejected.

This land is Crown Land dedicated as Public Park and zoned as parkland openspace and recreation or RE1 in the draft plan.

The Minister for Lands is the owner Trustee for the people of NSW who are the beneficiaries of the trust.

The Minister as a Minister of the Crown is bound by an Act of Parliament the Crown Lands Act 1989.

He must abide by the appropriate Objectives of the Act when deciding the management of this land: Section 10.

Section 11 sets out the principles that he should follow in the management of this parkland site.

The company proposing the DA is Annie Street Commercial Pty Ltd they do not have a lease or any tenure at this stage.

The company is a shelf Company with a nominal value of only a few dollars.

To have placed this DA before the Council they must have had a wink or nod from a Minister of the Crown probably not the Minister for Lands who is bound by the act.

What is going on and is there a MOU somewhere that should be made public for this public land?

Annie Street Commercial Pty Ltd has no tenure of the site and the alienation of this public land should be challenged now.

Perhaps any decision should be left until we have a new government and a new Minister and hopefully new ethical standards.

The Bowling Club had a perpetual lease but it had to be revoked because of the interlopers on the site and the unlawful deals.

Now is the time for appropriate development on the site serving the public interest?

The objectives of the Crown Lands Act are being flouted and the principles as set out in the act for management of Crown Land Reserves are not being considered.  The development is too large and intrusive as a park development that should serve the park and public interests not merely private and sectional interests.

One storey is sufficient for this locality and it should not be placed over the mine shaft. The public must have free and unfetted access to the park side of any building on the site. The building is particularly objectionable when viewed from the south. It is the complete privatisation of this coastal location and should not be countenanced by Newcastle people. There has not been a bona-fide Bowling Club for more than a decade and it is time the area was returned to the people with a low key use of the site.

This sort of commercial development should be in Hunter Street Not King Edward Park it would permanently alienate the people’s land!


Objects of Act
10 Objects of Act

The objects of this Act are to ensure that Crown land is managed for the benefit of the people of New South Wales and in particular to provide for:

(a) a proper assessment of Crown land,

(b) the management of Crown land having regard to the principles of Crown land management contained in this Act,

(c) the proper development and conservation of Crown land having regard to those principles,

(d) the regulation of the conditions under which Crown land is permitted to be occupied, used, sold, leased, licensed or otherwise dealt with,

(e) the reservation or dedication of Crown land for public purposes and the management and use of the reserved or dedicated land, and

(f) the collection, recording and dissemination of information in relation to Crown land.

Principles of Crown land management
11 Principles of Crown land management

For the purposes of this Act, the principles of Crown land management are:

(a) that environmental protection principles be observed in relation to the management and administration of Crown land,

(b) that the natural resources of Crown land (including water, soil, flora, fauna and scenic quality) be conserved wherever possible,

(c) that public use and enjoyment of appropriate Crown land be encouraged,

(d) that, where appropriate, multiple use of Crown land be encouraged,

(e) that, where appropriate, Crown land should be used and managed in such a way that both the land and its resources are sustained in perpetuity, and

(f) that Crown land be occupied, used, sold, leased, licensed or otherwise dealt with in the best interests of the State consistent with the above principles.

This letter was sent to the Newcastle Herald

The Letters Editor
Newcastle Herald
Bolton Street

Dear Sir,

Development in King Edward Park

The attention of the citizens of Newcastle is drawn to the under-the-counter ‘public exhibition’ of development in King Edward Park, 1 Ordinance Street, Newcastle. (On exhibition until 3 February)

The objectives of the Crown Lands Act are being flouted and the principles as set out in the Act for management of Crown Land Reserves are not being properly considered.

A firm commitment in the public interest is needed against the commercial over development of Newcastle’s premier public parkland. The current proposal is too large and intrusive as a park development that should be designed to serve the park and public not merely private interests.

The general public must be guaranteed free and unfetted access to and around any building placed on this important scenic coastal location.

Now is time the area was returned to the people with a low key public use for the site.

The sort of development proposed by the company Annie Street Commercial Pty Ltd should be in Hunter Street not King Edward Park.

Doug Lithgow
President Parks and Playgrounds movement

A Rail Based Solution to Historic Newcastle Station

A Rail Based solution must be stressed to maintain cityrail services to historic Newcastle Station and protect Newcastle's foreshore from greedy property speculation. All rail crossings removed in recent years should be restored and new ones crossings created where needed. Rail is the way to go to Newcastle. See Cate Faehrmann’s question on the last day of Parliament.


Page: 23

Ms CATE FAEHRMANN: My question is directed to the Minister for Transport. Can the Minister confirm the Labor Government's current position in relation to cutting the Newcastle train line? Given that the Newcastle city renewal transport management and accessibility plan proposes to terminate the Newcastle line at a new Wickham station, will he rule out today, on the last day of sitting for the year, cutting the line at Wickham and maintaining the current service right through to the Newcastle terminus?

The Hon. JOHN ROBERTSON: The New South Wales Government is committed to the revitalisation of the Newcastle central business district for the benefit of the people of Newcastle and the entire Hunter region. On 15 November the New South Wales Government released two transport studies that will contribute to the development of an Infrastructure Australia submission for the revitalisation of the Newcastle central business district. Both studies have been commissioned by the New South Wales Government and prepared by transport experts AECOM. The two studies have been provided to the Newcastle Central Renewal Steering Committee, which will develop the submission to Infrastructure Australia in consultation with local councils and the local community. The Government remains committed to a rail-based solution for Newcastle but recognises that work needs to be done to improve connectivity in the city centre. These reports provide some options for the steering committee to consider in consultation with the local community. Further questions on this process should be directed to the Minister for the Hunter.

Laman Street Trees and the Civic and Cultural Precinct Newcastle.

Letters Editor
Newcastle Herald
Bolton Street

Dear Sir,

Laman Street Trees and the Civic and Cultural Precinct Newcastle.

Parks and Playgrounds Movement were recently involved in litigation against the Newcastle City Council. Our action was taken in the public interest because it was manifestly unreasonable for Council to remove the Laman Street landscape without planning consent. Justice Biscoe however in his 36 page Judgment found that Council has power to remove the trees without planning consent. The case was a Judicial Review of Council’s decisions and did not consider the merit or otherwise of the removal.

The importance of the trees was identified at a design workshop earlier this year but a detailed plan for public exhibition was never prepared.  A more experienced Council may have proceed in this instance with the planning of the precinct rather than remove the iconic trees before a plan acceptable to the community could be adopted.

It is now clear that there is no officially acceptable plan and that the risk factor for the trees was distorted by the belief that certain trees were “wind thrown” in the 2007 storm which was not the case.

Doug Lithgow

Blackbutt Reserve

Blackbutt Reserve Didn't Just Happen - Speech Notes 
(Saturday, 9 April 2005) by Doug Lithgow

It is important to realise that the Newcastle Foreshore and Blackbutt Reserve or Barrington Tops Civic Park etc didn’t just become parks they had to be fought for by the Community.

· Blackbutt had its beginnings in the economic recession of the early thirties.

· Unsuccessful auction of Kotara subdivision land. Area known as Blackbutt relatively untouched.

· It was owned by the London based English and Scottish Mining Coy. 4 blocks sold in Reserve. 2 to Returned Sailors & Soldiers, 1 each to Tom Farrell and Thomas Marshall. Tom R.E. Farrell originated the Blackbutt Reserve concept. Tom Farrell’s block Lot 51, 17acres 3 Roods became the first official part of the Reserve Gov. Gaz.March 4 1938. There was slow progress through the thirties efforts made by the Parks and Playgrounds Movement of NSW (Charles EW Bean Sec. David Stead, Dorothea Mackellar Vice Pres.)

· All local Councils were urged by Cardiff Heights Progress Ass.1937 to help buy a further 144 acres total cost 3,500 pounds. Lands Dep. paid 2,500 pounds.

· Final payment 730 pound paid 1940 by the City of Greater Newcastle (Greater Ncle formed 1938)

· The war intervened. Our Tom RE Farrell was a P&PM NSW member and started a branch here the Northern Parks and Playgrounds Movement. NP&PM started the Barrington Tops National Parks 1952 project split in 1956 to form the National Parks Ass. with Rod Earp as Pres.

· 1949 Blackbutt Res. Special Committee -new plans then shelved. Plans for a Trust, Aviaries a Zoo, Gardens etc. Council continued to block extensions to the 131 acres. Northern Parks and Playgrounds Movement formed 1952 Matters came to a head in 1956-7 with proposed subdivision of adjacent 266 acres of bushland purchased by Newcastle Council from the E&S Mining Coy.. P& PM called public meeting July 56 to have the 266 acres added to the Reserve. Widespread support. National Parks Ass formed Rod Earp P&PM President and Newcastle Alderman Joe Richley & Tom Farrell President. spoke strongly -Three of competing plans.

· A new Council 16 Nov 1959 adopted in principle the Special Committee’s proposal that the 270 acres be added 9 votes to 8. Full Council adopted the park plan 11 vote to 9. New plan prepared by G. Baddley, Engineer, E. Wilmot County Planner R. Earp NPA, J. Richley P&PM.

· Permanent workforce appointed to Reserve 1962 - one man and a youth. Picnic area and roads built.

· 1963 High School proposed for Reserve Alienation of 22 acres– Protest meeting and huge public Meeting in Town Hall. Conflict resolved when Minister for Education withdrew proposal. Lots of activity and development.. By 1966 Blackbutt described as a “Little Eden” ‘enchanting bushland’ a great blessing to City.

· August 1966 the Highway 23 proposal to cut through 3 of the valleys of the Reserve. The Blackbutt Action Committee set up under the leadership of Dick Woodgate as secretary. ‘Save Blackbutt” fight starts in earnest July 1967 when City Council reaffirms its support for the expressway through the Reserve. The fight raged on 800 people at a City Hall Public Meeting declared no expressway in the Reserve and the Expressway should be routed to the West of Lake Macquarie.

· Further meetings 1972 and 1973. By Dec 74 there was overwhelming support for the Reserve. Federal Parliamentary Committee found that in no circumstances should Highway 23 violate Blackbutt. Peter Morris as Federal Transport Minister initiated the west of Lake as part of the National Highway Scheme.

· Blackbutt Landscape Study prepared 1976 proposed restoration Mine site implemented Nov. 1983 by Lord Mayor Joy Cummings. Comprehensive Plan of Management 1989.

· Improved Wildlife and aviary exhibits proposed 1992 and constructed.

· Continuing improvements to Blackbutt. Blackbutt is now ingrained as part of the folk law of Newcastle. ‘Dick became the Chairman of the National Trust Hunter Region

· 79 Newcastle organizations supported in writing the Reserve Proposal in 1957 and support is continuing. 180ha or 449ac still not dedicated until the 80’s.

Doug Lithgow