Our case in its wider context, the proper use of public recreational land

King Edward Park site plan legality queried

By MICHELLE HARRIS

  • King Edward Park site plan legality queried

THE ‘‘most magnificent’’ vantage point over the city of Newcastle stands to become the site of a function centre that would exclude the public from the use of its own land, a court has been told.

A three-day hearing got under way yesterday for the Friends of King Edward Park’s challenge to the approval of Stronach Group’s plans for a function centre, public kiosk and car park on the headland reserve at the site of the former bowling club.

Barrister for the group Tim Robertson SC told Justice Terry Sheahan, of the Land and Environment Court, the matter was part of the ‘‘continuing controversy’’ about the privatisation of public space.

He noted recent news of the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust’s decision to offer three prime sites on Sydney Harbour for long-term lease and development.

The group’s challenge is of Newcastle City Council’s approval of the function centre proposal, and to the validity of the government plan of management for the reserve.

The site’s potential uses  could not be permissible under provisions in the Crown Lands Act if those uses were inconsistent with the purpose of the reserve.

Mr Robertson said that although public access could be regulated, it could not be excluded.

The headland area provided a ‘‘significant vantage point’’ over the city and coastline, and also had Aboriginal heritage and heritage value for its links to the early days of coalmining in Newcastle.

The hearing is continuing.