Lismore resident Peter Bellew believes if Lismore City Council succeeds in reclassifying Lismore Park from community land to operational land the people of Lismore could lose a century-old parkland forever.
The reclassification will give Council the authority to lease or sell the land at will, and allows Council to lease the land for more than 21 years something it cannot do when land is classified as community.
Lismore Park is the area bounded by Dawson, Uralba, Magellan and Brewster streets and includes Oakes, Crozier, Heaps, Blair and Humbly ovals, and represents the core of Lismores premier sporting fields. Declared a public park in 1887, it is the oldest and largest stretch of commons in the city.
The reclassification is designed to give Council staff more control of the area and means objections to long-term leasing of the land will no longer have to be referred to the NSW Minister for Planning.
Lismore Councils executive director of development and governance, Lindsay Walker, says the desire to reclassify the land is to be able to offer greater certainty and longevity to lease approvals for commercial interests and to exclude frivolous objections to the development process.
Documents are sitting before the Minister for more than a year, Mr Walker said. Its just not commercially possible for approvals to take that long.
However Peter, who lives near Crozier Oval and is part of a group called Save Lismore Park, believes the reclassification could be the beginning of the end for the parkland.
If it becomes operational they can lock it up and throw away the key and the people of Lismore would lose a park that has great historical significance, said Peter. At the moment all sporting groups have equal access to the premier ovals, but if the classification is changed, they could lease the venue to one club for 40 years and all the other sports would miss out. The real problem with the term operational is it means they can sell or lease what they like without any community consultation.
The draft amendment to the Local Environment Plan is now on display at Councils Goonellabah and CBD offices. Submissions can be made up until September 25.
A petition produced by members of Save Lismore Park, which has already generated 400 signatures, is also available at Caddies Coffee Shop.
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