Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Adamstown - former rifle range

Why does Council allow development contrary the objectives of its Planning Zones?

Newcastle Council must have given consent to development of land off City Rd & Brunker Rd  (see photo) at the top end of the old Adamstown Rifle Range that was previously held by Australian Telecommunications Commission for a communication tower in 1985.  

The old Adamstown Rifle Range was Commonwealth owned and part of Newcastle’s Green Belt. It was zoned Special Purposes (Open Space) in 1952 . Council’s gazetted Plan (LEP 1987) zoned this area 6(a) [Open Space & Recreation] and currently it is zoned as E3 Environmental Management.

The official Planning Objectives of the LEP,  E3 Environmental Management Zone are

  • To manage and restore areas with special Ecological, Scientific, and Cultural & Aesthetic values.
  • To arrange for a limited range of development that does not have an adverse effect on these values.
  • To provide for conservation of rural and bush land character of the land that forms the scenic edge of and gateway to urban Newcastle.

The last 2 Developments in this area are inconsistent with Council's planning objectives for the area:

  1. Clearly the development has destroyed all the Ecological, Scientific or heritage values.
  2. The development covers the complete area and has an adverse effect on all the values.
  3. No provision made in the development for conservation of the bush land identified as a Gateway to urban Newcastle.

The Planning History of the Rifle Range goes back to 1952 when the County Council zoned the land to be acquired for Open Space as part of a Greenbelt to surround the developing Newcastle City.  All rifle shooting was then moved to the rifle range at Fern Bay about 1953 so that City Road could be developed as the main arterial road to Charlestown and Lake Macquarie. The Commonwealth Gov has sold parts of the Rifle Range over the years until 1999 when the Parks & Playgrounds Movement lobbied to have the remaining bushland acquired because of its high biodiversity as compensation for the Charlestown Western Bypass.

Newcastle Council under Lord Mayor John Tate in 1999 called all parties with an interest in the former Rifle Range together and an agreement was reached to allow Council to rezone the area now known as Clarence Jefferies VC estate, ( Residential ) and the transfer of the bush land from the Commonwealth to the NSW Parks and Wildlife Service  for inclusion within the Glenrock SRA.( Now SCA)

The old Adamstown Rifle Range has a long Green-Belt planning history and, being Commonwealth Land, had to be acquired.  Parks and Playgrounds Movement campaigned for the Open space provisions of the 1952 planning scheme and to have the remaining bushland included in the Glenrock SCA. Now this part of the old Rifle Range has been completely developed contrary to the intention of the long-term planning for the area and little can be done. This sort of development can happen when the DA is dealt with at the officer level without transparency and oversight from elected Councillors.