More than 100 people gathered at the Woodville Town Hall on October 14 to hear speakers opposed to the proposed Cheltenham Park Racecourse redevelopment.
The local and state government plan is to use 65% of the site, which is the last remaining open space in Adelaide's western suburbs, for housing (only 15% of that "affordable" housing) and other buildings, leaving just 35% for open space. Many local residents, environment activists and others oppose the redevelopment, arguing that the site should instead be converted into publicly accessible open space and wetlands to harvest stormwater.
ALP state MP Jay Wetherill told the meeting that, since the original battle to save the racecourse had been lost, the current development plan is the best compromise possible. Few in the audience agreed.
Pat Harbison, president of Friends of Gulf St Vincent, pointed out that 2500 megalitres of water per year could be harvested from the site, pumped into the local aquifer and re-used. This would generate about $1.5 million, minus costs, Harbison said.
Peter Laffan, chairperson of the Save Our Gulf Coalition, which is opposing the proposed desalination plant for the gulf, explained how the campaigns are linked at the local, city-wide and global levels.
Jack Mundey, former secretary of the NSW Builders Labourers Federation and leader of the "green bans" campaign in NSW in the 1970s, said that the issue was bigger than just Cheltenham. He related how Centennial Park, "the lungs of eastern Sydney", was saved by public action, and argued that Cheltenham is just as important for Adelaide.
The meeting passed the following five motions:
to retain the 1961 proclamation prohibiting subdivision of the land;
to reverse the Development Plan Amendment Report (which proposes the housing development) on the grounds that it is in the public interest to preserve this remnant Kaurna (the traditional owners') land;
to lobby the federal government to acquire the site so that the council can implement the National Water Initiative;
that the council prove that flood mitigation work for stormwater is not required on the site to protect properties in the catchment region; and
that the state government support dolphin protection in its reserve zoning of the Port River to prevent pollution of Barker Inlet from storm water entering via the Torrens Road catchment.
For more information about the campaign, visit http://www.savecheltenham.info.