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Black Rock Motor Park, Wakefield


Yes, as one door (half) closes with the news about Casar Park, seems another one opens. The professional consistent approach by Tony Palmer has paid off. A month ago, Lake Mac has approved the DA. A copy is attached just in case you want to know what that miracle looks like.

Contemplate the extreme amount of paperwork the DA shows has been involved in getting this one over the line, and that tells you about the mettle of the man putting it through. The facility should be a corker!!!

Lake Mac's website has totally changed since the first post; docs can be found by going here and searching for DA/1556/2017 in the Application Number tab

Crikey, I just used the link in my first post to check status and see just before Christmas LMC Council issued a list of what they need before they could contemplate approval. The doc is attached. I will avoid making specific commentary on it, but do observe what an extraordinarily involved process getting such a sensible well thought out development to happen is. From what I've seen of the site, I would observe there could be a disconnect between what is being asked for and what the vast majority of ratepayers represented by LMCC are likely to regard as reasonable as this set of demands looks massively disruptive to the originally put proposal, for little to no gain. Or have I misread it? Don't know how you get that genie back in the bottle as it seems to have escaped and fanciful flights of unrealistic expectations abound in our society these days, of which this is yet another example... or am I just showing my age?

Regardless of the answers to my somewhat rhetorical (or even pointless!) q's above, we can only supportively cheer the proponent on and wish him well. If there is an opportunity for more public input, all 213 of you on this board will get an email invitation to give me your thoughts, and we will do exactly that.

At the time of writing the earlier post I also sent a piece in to Newcastle Herald. Given that drew zero response, two months later it would seem fitting the piece be released publicly, so at least the content can be contemplated / debated as people see fit. Here 'tis, with personal details removed as I haven't sought permission to include them:
Sent: Saturday, 4 November 2017 6:12 PM

 Subject: Joining the dots on Developments around Lake Macquarie - What really matters to Us

There is a really big story to be told around Lake Macquarie future development and I am hoping to bring a key aspect into sharp focus. You will have heard a lot of stuff that COULD look like “fluffy hype going forward” stuff from LMCC. But it is anchored to solid community sentiment that should be the reference point for any stories on major developments. I recently read this story by Joanne McCarthy, and realised a really key message hadn’t got through. It needs to.

If I was writing an explanatory piece on this “key missing bit”, I would say the following, which is way over the 100 word limit for letters to the editor:

I want to provide an important Lake Macquarie City Council (LMCC) over-arching perspective on the Black Rock Motor Park proposal. I was a member of LMCC’s Community Reference Group (CRG) that in Nov 2016 laid the foundation for development of LMCC’S plans into the foreseeable future. Our recommendations were 100% adopted by the Council, and this process went on to win the IAP2’s top award on the international stage. Yes, LMCC is the world’s best Community Engagement Organisation, bar none! That happened because of LMCC’s well thought out approach, and the CRG was an excellent diverse group of locals from all areas and demographics. And definitely not just “the grey-haired brigade” mindset you might expect, despite a lot of grey hair being present!

This great bunch of decent human beings in the CRG held wide-ranging views on many issues, but we came together well to make quality decisions. As part of this process, we realised the LMCC area was approaching a cross-roads where the “do-nothing” option would set the area on a pathway to becoming the retirement mega-centre for Sydney over the coming decades, especially Westlakes. This was a massive realisation, and there was not one person in the room that felt being a better version of Port Macquarie was what the community wanted, at any level, whilst of course recognising it had a place. We wanted to keep the overall character of the various areas, with better connectivity, but we particularly wanted to attract new enterprises and technology that would see us develop in ways that ensured we built on existing diversity to create growth of a highly resilient economy.

A proposed development that has recently been in the news, the Black Rock Motor Park proposal, fits beautifully into the direction the CRG set for the area. Nobody would rather see a nursing home, “lifestyle village”, or crematorium there, with more to come. If I was sitting down with my CRG colleagues now, I’m certain a high majority of support would occur; we would universally look for things like nice landscaping on the site and a decent buffer zone of in-character trees around the perimeter, and have a debate about exactly what the smartest way to deal with connectivity of such a development may be. Which I have looked at the DA docs on LMCC website and they are clearly on top of this and other important / related issues. Whilst of course I cannot speak for my fellow CRG members, I am extremely confident the collective view would be that such proposals must go ahead for the good of the region, and that the recently awarded world leader of community engagement LMCC is duty bound to get cracking on removing impediments and making it happen. Do contact Wes Hain, a snr LMCC Mgr, to confirm my statements should you so wish. Thank you. Vince Sunter, BE (Mech).

Here is the Award info:  LMCC won the IAP2 organisation of the year award last week. Awarded by: IAP2 is an international association of members who seek to promote and improve the practice of public participation in relation to matters and decision affect the public interest.

I am sure Wes Hain would be happy to talk details with you; as a matter of courtesy I am copying him to this email:

I am happy to elaborate on the above or give other perspectives. I want to emphasise that it is no small thing to see a serious CRG in action. I know it would be unacceptable by all of us for any one participant’s voice to hold sway over others, apart from expressing an opinion and engaging in debate around the issues, of course. In writing the above, I am both mindful and respectful of the CRG process, and absolutely endeavouring to keep my opinions “in the middle” of where I understand the sentiment to be for this excellent CRG. I am sure my perspective is correct, and the core message is a very important story that needs to be told for the future of Lake Macquarie.

Doing nothing is not an option as “something is coming”, the CRG just want that to be the best “something” it can be, for the dynamic and delightful nature of the Lake Mac area. And LMCC have been empowered to deliver on it. Nice if the NH understood the core community drivers and held all parties accountable for its delivery, rather than just echo the loudest voices that in reality need to be educated / comprehend the concept of “be careful what you wish for” a lot better. Or pushed to the outer and not given a platform to ventilate otherwise quite destructive views.

When good people are trying to do really good things for the area, a realisation that this is what the community wants collectively / check against the CRG reference values should inform balanced reporting more than any other aspect. In application, that just means asking the naysayers a few open ended questions, eg in the case to hand “Do you think Westlakes should become Sydney’s retirement centre; if not, how should we avoid it?” and “What would you rather see old mines and other large disused sites converted into if not thriving retirement villages and the like?” Thank you for listening.

This is the article Scott was referring to; the gentleman behind it is Tony Palmer, the MD of The Formula Company. I have had a look at the DA (DA-1556/2017) and a lot of the support docs available on LMCC's website (click Documents and Events tab for most relevant info) and this is a very slick professional and complete proposal that is well supported by many significant players. Good on Mr Palmer for having the wherewithal to put such a useful facility in the Lake Mac area and do it in such a credible way. He deserves all the support we can give him, which I am separately doing things about - more on that later; here is the article:

Wakefield is heading for a $30 million car enthusiast resort, but residents aren't happy
   (by Joanne McCarthy)

Keen Racing enthusiast Tony Palmer says his car enthusiast resort park will be a positive for the Wakefield area.

Father and son Clark and Maclean Greedy outside a former Wakefield coal mine site where a motoring enthusiast resort park is proposed. They strongly oppose the project.   

Sleepy Wakefield is headed for a $30 million car enthusiast resort. Race track proponent says he doesn't want to be a "bad neighbour"

THE man behind plans for a $30 million motoring enthusiast resort park built on a former Lake Macquarie coal mine site, and modelled on a famous Spanish resort and driving track, said he was “not trying to build another Eastern Creek” in the Hunter.

Tony Palmer said his proposed Black Rock Motor Park on the old Rio Tinto Rhondda Colliery mine site at Wakefield would be “a bit like a golf resort, but for people who like cars”, and with “more of a welcoming environment than most racetracks”.

Lake Macquarie City Council is assessing the proposal for a 4km track, 20 short-stay villas, a 20-room lodge, training facilities, function centre, bars, cafes, a pit lane building for the open display of up to 60 cars and storage for up to 162 cars.

A report prepared for Mr Palmer’s company, Elemenop Pty Ltd, said there had been “close consultation” with Lake Macquarie Council since March, 2016 about the proposal for “Australia’s first dedicated recreation resort park for motoring enthusiasts”.

Mr Palmer, a former racing driver whose purchase of the former mine site is linked to the development application approval, said Black Rock would be modelled on the Ascari motoring enthusiast resort in a beautiful region in Spain.   

But many Wakefield residents are outraged the project is being considered for the area, and say it was only by word of mouth they became aware of the proposed development.

“To suggest that local residents and those in surrounding suburbs will not be adversely impacted by noise emanating from a race track, operating 365 days per year in a bushland setting, is not only ludicrous, but frankly insulting,” said Clark Greedy, who said the project would be a “crushing blow to the rural community”.

His son Maclean said Wakefield, about 10 minutes from Edgeworth and Toronto, was “a sleepy little hamlet nestled in rural tranquillity” which would permanently change if the project is approved.

“This is proposed in a sensitive bushland setting which contradicts what Lake Macquarie Council has repeatedly asserted are its goals in terms of a green, environmentally-focused future,” Maclean Greedy said.

Wakefield resident Gareth Hawgood, who moved with his family to Wakefield in 2011, said the motor park “did not in any way fit with the area’s rural zoning”. A report prepared for Elemenop acknowledged the proposed development is “prohibited under the various zonings of the site”.

In a submission opposing the motor park Mr Hawgood noted the council in 2013 rejected a development application for a mechanic’s business to operate from a Wakefield property because it did not fit with the area’s rural zoning.

“Residents at this time all strongly opposed this and with the clear and unwavering support of Lake Macquarie Council the DA was rejected on all grounds,” Mr Hawgood said.

Mr Palmer said he was aware of the opposition but “We don’t want to be bad neighbours”.He defended a description of the proposal as an ecotourist resort, saying it would be “open to not just people who like cars and bikes”.

It would host corporate driving events and launches, driving “experiences” in performance cars, public track days and driver training with dedicated facilities. “I’ve got a passion for driver training, having lost my best mate when he was 17,” he said.

“We will have a private track where people can train, where cyclists can have time trials and events safe from cars, and where there will be facilities in a beautiful environment.”

He acknowledged that noise was “obviously going to be an issue” for a facility where up to 20 vehicles at a time could be driving on the track at speed, but said noise could be mitigated.

An economic assessment report found there was “potential for the development to be a catalyst for further, related development” and the proposal was an innovative re-use of a former mine site.

In questions to Elemenop on September 28 Lake Macquarie Council noted the project would “significantly impact on this local community, especially with regards to noise”.

I saw this in today's paper & bring it on with it only being 5 - 10 minutes from my house


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