21 April 2021
Canterbury Park Racecourse a Rare Opportunity to Create a “Centennial Park” of the Inner West
A regional alliance of resident and environmental groups today called for the iconic Canterbury Park Racecourse to either become regional open space or be retained for horse racing, amid evidence that the site is being lined up for significant development and local residents are being gagged.
The call by the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance comes at a crucial stage in planning for the 35 hectare heritage-listed asset, with a highly secretive council planning committee expected to report its findings mid-year.
Canterbury-Bankstown Council has formed a Canterbury Park Racecourse Coordination Committee, which includes the Greater Sydney Commission’s South and Central City Districts Commissioner Peter Poulet, government agencies and the Australian Turf Club.
Local residents however do not have a seat on this committee and are being side-lined in a Community Voice Panel which reports into the committee.
Alarmingly, at a Community Voice Panel meeting on 24 March, panel members were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement – meaning they are not able to talk about the events of the panel meeting with other residents.
The Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance supports the position of the Canterbury Racecourse Action Group for the racecourse to either be retained for open space or horse racing.
It has done this because of the regional significance of the site for people across Canterbury-Bankstown, Inner West and surrounding LGAs.
“What’s concerning is that the current focus appears to be about secret closed doors talks to develop and rezone this land, when the real focus should be about retain the land as open space,” said Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance spokesperson Barbara Coorey.
“Given the site currently has a low value private recreation zoning, there is currently a golden opportunity to purchase the land at its cheapest possible price.
“Every meeting which discusses development and rezoning simply pushes the price of the land up and ensures it will be locked away from the people of Canterbury-Bankstown and surrounding areas forever.”
“What’s also extremely concerning is that local residents have been side-lined from the Council’s coordination committee and even banned from discussing what they may have learned in the secondtier Community Voice Panel.
“These two issues are an anathema to the principle of open and transparent planning processes and provides no comfort that proper planning is taking place.
“The introduction of non-disclosure agreements in particular have no place in today’s planning system.” In moving to create the Co-ordination Committee in July last year, Canterbury-Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour made it clear that development of the racecourse was on the agenda.
His mayoral minute said it was anticipated the site “will comprise a mix of uses including open space and create an opportunity to refocus and renew the Canterbury town centre.”
The protection of Canterbury Park Racecourse is needed to support current and future population growth in the area.
A 2015 Open Space Study by the former Canterbury Council in fact found that some 170 hectares of additional open space was needed for sportsgrounds and recreation areas, with the suburbs of Canterbury and Campsie among those with the biggest open space deficiency.
In 2017, the NSW Government’s own Office of Sport, in response to the now defunct Sydenham to Bankstown urban renewal strategy, called on the NSW Government to retain Canterbury racecourse as an open space reservoir for the corridor.
“It is our strong recommendation that this be zoned as RE1 (public recreation) land to allow various community sport and recreation demands to be met from the 100,000 additional people that will reside along this transport corridor,” the submission said.
“Should the rezoning of the entire site to RE1 not be deemed viable by the Department of Planning and Environment, the Office of Sport recommends that opportunities that contain mixed land zones be explored and include the provision of community sport facilities.”
Find out more about the Canterbury Park racecourse campaign at www.CRAG.community and at this web page on the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance website
About the Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance (SBA)
The Sydenham to Bankstown Alliance is an alliance of community groups fighting massive overdevelopment and the privatisation of our train services in the Sydenham to Bankstown corridor. Find out more at www.sydbankalliance.com
Canterbury Bankstown Council Meeting – 28 July 2020 – Mayoral Minute https://www.cbcity.nsw.gov.au/Councilccb/docs/ORD_28072020_AGN.pdf https://www.cbcity.nsw.gov.au/Councilccb/docs/ORD_28072020_MIN.pdf
Canterbury City Council – Open Space Review (July 2015) http://webdocs.bankstown.nsw.gov.au/api/publish?documentPath=aHR0cDovL2lzaGFyZS9zaXRlcy9Db21tdW5 pY2F0aW9ucy9QdWJsaWNhdGlvbnMvV2Vic2l0ZSBEb2N1bWVudHMvcmVjcmVhdGlvbi1PcGVuLVNwYWNlLVN 0dWR5LnBkZg==&title=recreation-Open-Space-Study.pdf
NSW Government Office of Sport – Submission for Sydenham to Bankstown Urban Renewal Strategy (2017) https://majorprojects.accelo.com/public/238112b65cb0cb5a7e805bbdb41aab67/222441_Draft%20Submissio n%20by%20Office%20of%20Sport%20on%20Sydenham%20to%20Bankstown%20Urban%20Renewal%20Corri dor%20Strategy.pdf