Wakefield Park DA goes to conciliation

Wakefield Park Raceway

Wakefield Park will enter into conciliation talks with its local council over a development application regarding noise emissions at the Goulburn circuit.

Goulburn Mulwaree Council conditionally approved a development application in July but, in doing so, imposed tighter noise limits which would take full effect in 2024.

Management of Wakefield Park Raceway believes those conditions would threaten the viability of the circuit, and signalled that they would pursue the matter in the New South Wales Land and Environment Court.

A directions hearing was held earlier this month, as reported by Speedcafe.com, but that is simply a first step in the court process.

Now, conciliation has been scheduled for late-November.

“We’re definitely going to a Section 34 conference and we’re sitting down with council and we’re going to try and work it out before it goes to a [court] hearing,” Wakefield Park operations manager Dean Chapman told Speedcafe.com.

“We’ve had some positive communications with the council, and that’s vital to understand as well; it’s not about beating up each other, it’s about trying to find a solution which is workable for Goulburn as well as our raceway.

“We’ve had some positive communications post the appeal, so positive signs to understand what they want and why, and they’re starting to understand what we want and why.”

What Wakefield Park wants is up to 75 days per year of noise up to 95 dBA LAeq 15min, meaning recorded noise levels would be averaged over 15-minute periods for the purpose of measuring compliance.

Furthermore, the circuit wants as few as 78 ‘respite’ days, being those with noise below 75 dBA, and thus around 200 days from 75 to 85 dBA.

The conditionally approved development application imposes a cap of only 30 days per year at 95 dBA, which is what a race meeting would run to, and another 100 at 85 dBA.

According to the agenda for the ordinary council meeting on June 22, 2021, when a decision was originally to have been made on the development application, it attracted 19 submissions in support and 20 objecting.

The majority of those objections were related to noise, and it should also be noted that the majority of complaints received by council in relation to noise are from “residents who have been occupants of the area prior to the [original] 1993 approval,” according to that agenda.

Chapman says that circuit management is looking to have more open lines of communication with nearby residents in order to accommodate their needs.

“We have had communications with the residents,” he noted.

“What we will be doing, no matter what the outcome is, is speaking with these residents after and seeing if we can assist them in any way. That’s whatever the result is at the end of the day.

“We’re going to do that to all of our close neighbours, we’re going to build a stronger relationship around communication to all the residents in the area, we’re going to adopt time and effort to be able to make sure that we understand what our neighbours are doing, whether it be that they’re having a wedding, a family function, or something like that, and how we can assist.

“So, one thing that we’ve brought out of this is that the communication really needs to be a lot better to our neighbours, and we’re looking forward to that not only being successful but building up a better community in our area.”

The timing of an upcoming election also makes for an interesting dynamic in any talks over Wakefield Park.

New South Wales’ local government elections were postponed again earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are now set to take place in most areas, Goulburn Mulwaree included, on December 4.

The town’s race track, which is recognised as a significant driver of economic activity, therefore has the potential to become an election issue.

Deputy Mayor Peter Walker was among those at the July council meeting who sought to increase the number of 95 dBA days relative to the cap which was ultimately approved.

According to the Goulburn Post, he wanted 12 days of “unlimited” noise in order to cater for events such as a round of the Australian Superbike Championship, and described the 30-day cap as “very detrimental”.

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