WESTS Entertainment Group has revealed it is in discussions to acquire additional land in Tamworth to offset the loss of public green space due to the proposed redevelopment of Scully Park No. 1 Oval.
The announcement comes as Tamworth Regional Council is tonight expected to approve the club’s controversial plans to bulldoze the iconic oval and build a $12 million motel and function centre.
Speaking to The Leader on the eve of the vote, Wests chief executive officer Rod Laing said negotiations were underway with council about transforming undeveloped council-owned land into sporting fields and training facilities.
The move would help compensate for the loss of the city’s premier sporting ground and an important public green space, in addition to neutralising one of the main arguments put forward by critics of the proposal.
“We’ve entered into discussions with council regarding land elsewhere, away from the club, to look
at perhaps a formal management arrangement with land that’s not currently developed,” Mr Laing said.
“That would be able to be used as additional training facilities for clubs that we sponsor, but also for the community as well.”
Council received more than 30 objections from residents dismayed at the prospect of losing the ground, which was built on the back of volunteer labour nearly 60 years ago and is regarded as one of country NSW’s best ovals.
Save Our Scully, a group made up of concerned locals, lobbied feverishly against the development – even securing 180 signatures in an attempt to use the club’s constitution to trigger a vote on the plans.
“West Tamworth League Club has become a major commercial entity, far removed from the original community-based sporting and social club it once was,” said Save Our Scully spokesman Stephen Young.
“Despite some claims, this DA is not about Wests’ financial survival – it’s about increasing their financial power.
“If passed by councillors, the community will pay the price for their expanding corporate might.”
However, council’s planners concluded that “despite some media coverage”, it is “not evident that the submissions received represent a broad community view that the development should not proceed”.
Mr Laing, who will make one final pitch to councillors on the merits of the redevelopment, said the club’s board was confident the project would be approved, given the application had the support of planning staff.
“It’s been a long, drawn out process ... but I’m expecting the recommendations to go through,” he said.