DEBATE surrounding one of Tamworth’s most controversial developments in years is no closer to being settled following a dramatic twist yesterday.
An independent planning panel was due to finally hand down its ruling on plans to redevelop Scully Park No. 1 Oval at a meeting today in Tamworth.
But yesterday morning the Northern Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) abruptly and inexplicably called off the hearing into the $12 million development.
The first residents registered to speak at the meeting knew of the cancellation was when they received a call yesterday morning.
The panel’s chairman, Garry West, told The Leader he could not enter into specifics about the reasons for the sudden postponement.
“All I can say at this stage is there’s some last-minute operational procedural matters that have arisen that need to be resolved,” he said.
“So, therefore, we just have to defer the meeting.”
Mr West could give no new date for the hearing, but said it would need to be re-advertised to the public, which would take some time.
West Tamworth League Club’s plans to build a 53-room motel and function centre on the site of the hallowed No. 1 Oval has polarised public opinion.
The club’s chief executive officer, Rod Laing, has argued the development is a crucial part of plans to grow and reduce its reliance on poker machine revenue.
He said the application process had been long and he was disappointed the JRPP had cancelled on the eve of making its decision.
“It’s been a real process to get here,” he said. “The first reaction (at the postponement) was one of disappointment.
“Not knowing the full circumstances, I guess we’ll have to sit and wait for the umpire’s decision to be handed down another day.”
A concerted campaign against the development has been spearheaded by a group called Save Our Scully Alliance (SOSA), which has lobbied for the iconic ground to be spared.
SOSA spokesman Stephen Young, who was due to speak at the meeting, said his group’s opposition remained resolute.
“We believe that it is not in the community’s interest for this development application to proceed,” he said.