Last night I informed the house of the thoughts and concerns raised by the people of Goulburn about Wakefield Park. You can read the full speech here:
I also was able to meet with Minister for Sport Alister Henskens and Goulburn Mulwaree Council in Parliament, I have another meeting this coming week with Benalla Auto Club.
In summation, in 1994, after approval and construction, Wakefield Park was opened. In 2000 Wakefield Park changed hands and major events began taking place at the venue. In 2007 the property was purchased by Benalla Auto Club.
The business expanded the facilities operating hours, developing a facility available to hire 7-days-a-week, hosting all sorts of events. The region of Goulburn has benefitted from the facility greatly whether it be tourism, jobs, hospitality, and accommodation services, and to the overall local economy.
Wakefield Park’s commercial strategy and utilisation were slow to grow. They were not complemented by a new or amended developmental consent, council did not seek compliance. For over a decade council worked to address the issues that surrounded the expanded use of the facility – the primary issue being the matter of noise generated – to find a balanced and fair outcome for all.
During this time, I spoke with many stakeholders in the matter. And I want to be clear, nobody, not one person that I have met with or heard from – including the direct or adjacent neighbours – ever wanted Wakefield Park to cease their operations.
In response to the increased use of the facility Council issued a prevention notice to the park on 25 January 2019. This notice led to a Land and Environment Court case which in its ruling approved the facility’s updated Development Application, but it remains subject to noise restriction.
Immediately after hearing the court’s ruling (and prior to the closure) I made urgent representations to the Deputy Premier, the sports Minister and planning Minister. I thank the Ministers who joined me in swiftly convened meetings with Regional NSW, the Office of Sport, NSW Planning, and council to consider all viable options for the facility.
A possible solution was the inclusion of up to three events pursuant to the Motor Sport Events Act 2022, but this act relates to races on public streets and would not resolve the heart of the Land and Environment court judgement of noise restrictions and subsequent decision by Benalla Auto Club to close the facility.
I welcome the support shown for the facility in the petition to NSW Parliament that has amassed (now over) 20,000 signatures from NSW residents who also seek a solution for the facility.
I stand in support of the Government’s commitment to working with the court’s decision, while considering the expectations of all stakeholders. At the same time, I ask council and the club to continue to work towards a solution that ensures Wakefield Park’s future for the community.