Goulburn Mulwaree Council is reportedly seeking the beleaguered Wakefield Park to be given special status based on its economic contribution to the area.
The revelation is contained in a letter from shadow New South Wales Planning Minister Paul Scully to Mayor Peter Walker, which was obtained by Speedcafe.com.
According to correspondence from Mr Scully to Cr Walker, dated July 22, Goulburn Council would be looking at two possible ways to save Wakefield Park, which faces an uncertain future due to the Land and Environment Court (LEC) ruling of the last month.
“I understand that the Council is proposing that the Minister consider two possible planning pathway options to navigate the implications of the LEC’s decision while allowing Wakefield Park Racecourse to operate,” he wrote in reference. to his counterpart in government, Planning Minister Anthony Roberts.
“These options include amending the existing Motor Sporting Events Act 2022 to include Wakefield Park or declaring the area a new Special Activation Area (SAP).”
Curiously, the provisions of the Motor Sporting Events Act appear to relate to street circuit events, noting that the Act essentially excludes motorsport from the Major Events Act 2009.
Race meetings at Wakefield Park would hardly have been considered major events under this legislation, and the majority of the clauses of the new Motor Sporting Events Act fall under Part 2, headed “Motor Racing Other Than On authorized racing grounds”.
A Special Activation Zone, on the other hand, is a location in a regional area of the state with special economic opportunities.
According to the State’s Planning Department website, “Special Activation Zones are a new way of planning and delivering industrial and commercial infrastructure projects in dedicated areas across the NSW region, bringing together investment planning and support services”.
For example, the Williamtown SAP was created to promote the jobs and economic growth associated with the existing Newcastle Air Base, with a 40-year master plan to be created for the area.
How Goulburn Mulwaree Council could get away with creating an SAP for Wakefield Park would likely hinge largely on demonstrating its importance to the local economy.
A potential sticking point, however, is that the circuit is located in an RU1 zone for “Primary Production”, with which motorsport activities are arguably not compatible.
It should be noted in this regard that one of the objectives of the Goulburn RU1 area is to “allow the development of non-agricultural land uses which are compatible with the character of the area”.
According to Mr Scully’s letter, Cr Walker and/or Goulburn Mulwaree advisers/staff have requested a meeting with the Planning Minister to discuss the above two options.
It is not known if this meeting has already taken place.
Meanwhile, it is understood that Wakefield Park is in shutdown mode starting next month, which is consistent with the cancellation of a state event that was due to be held on September 17-18.
According to a public communication from the SuperSports Race Car Club of Australia earlier this month, circuit management said it was “unable to support events at Wakefield Park beyond the end of August this year”.
Wakefield Park had limited itself to four days of race meetings per month so as not to trigger new noise restrictions resulting from the LEC decision in July, but it is believed that such a low level of activity would not cover the variable costs. necessary to organize such events.
Goulburn Council, which sought to impose less stringent noise restrictions than those ultimately decided by the LEC, publicly pledged to “[ing] for the long-term future” of the track.