PLANS have been put in motion to rezone about 100 acres of South Tamworth land to allow for the development of a harness racing facility.
The land, identified as Lot 5 Burgmanns Ln, sits at the corner of the New England Highway and is zoned for rural use.
However, a planning proposal endorsed by Tamworth Regional councillors during Tuesday night’s ordinary meeting will soon be sent to the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DPI) requesting a gateway determination to rezone the land for tourist-related use.
If the proposal and subsequent development application is approved, it will pave the way for construction of a 1000- metre harness racing track, clubhouse, marquee, stables and parade ring.
Tamworth Harness Racing Club deputy chairman Mark Lowe was ecstatic the proposal had cleared its first hurdle and said the new facility would be the “lifeblood” of the industry in Tamworth and the North West region of NSW as a whole.
“We envisage in the future we could hold more TAB meetings and expand with the possibility of the greyhounds also going there,” Mr Lowe said.
“The possibility of a future training establishment also offers an avenue for younger people to get into the industry without having to have their own property ... which may prompt some people to relocate to Tamworth.”
In time the facility, which will be a replica of the harness racing site being built at Bathurst, may also be used for markets, trade shows, exhibitions and weddings, Mr Lowe predicted.
Harness racing is being conducted on the Tamworth Showground site located in Showground Rd, Taminda, however the track does not meet industry
standards. It needs to be upgraded to a 1000-metre track, which has proven problematic due to existing buildings and industrial land zoning.
The proposed use for the site will “significantly enhance” the precinct and will extend the equine theme of the existing tourist developments nearby, which includes the Australian Equine Livestock and Events Centre, the Australian Quarter Horse Association and the Longyard Trail development, the council report said.
Should the gateway panel approve the public exhibition of the planning proposal, it is expected to be put on display in March or April this year.
Mr Lowe hoped the facility would be “up and racing” in time for the 2016 Tamworth Country Music Festival.