There are over 150 car parking spots within a couple of minutes walk from Torakina Reserve, most of which are empty for 90 per cent of the year. The additional 18 carparks that are planned to be built inside the reserve will make absolutely no difference to the parking situation in Brunswick on peak summer beach days, which is the only time they will be needed.
The majority of tourists come to Brunswick Heads to use its beautiful foreshore parklands. Torakina in summer has hundreds of people scattered around it and under its many shade trees. The grassed and treed area where this carpark is planned is usually covered in picnickers, soccer and volleyball games, and most weekends at least half a dozen kids birthday parties.
It makes zero sense to reduce this heavily used and beautiful recreational space to a fraction of its size just to park a few cars. Thousands of families a year will be then be squeezed into a park 40 per cent smaller.
There is something very fishy going on here. For the majority of the last 40 years there was plenty of parking available right across the road from Torakina Reserve. That space is still available and rarely used because unlike Torakina it has no trees and is very exposed. A couple of years ago rocks were placed across the entrance to stop all parking and essentially reduced parking around Torakina by over 100 spots.
If there really is a serious parking issue (which I don’t believe there is) it could be fixed in under an hour by removing a couple of rocks and spending $100 on a chain and padlock that is simply opened on busy days. Local charities or the Surf Club would jump at the chance to run the carpark on these days as happens in other open areas of Brunswick.
Why destroy much used Torakina Reserve for a carpark when 20m away is a little used space that had been used for parking for years? Who could possibly make such a stupid decision?
Torakina Reserve is Crown Land and designated for public purpose recreation. Unbelievably the old Crown Lands Department that once rigorously protected our best public spaces has had its authority transferred by the state government (and Nationals) to the mysterious, Newcastle based, NSW Crown Lands Holiday Parks Trust. The NSW Government established this so called ‘trust’ and ‘gifted’ them (at council’s expense) not only the control and revenue of the 3 Brunswick Heads Caravan Parks but total control of 100 per cent of our towns public foreshore Crown Land. Yes, all of it!
The NSWCHPs Trust who decided last year it was fair to fence townsfolk off from their own parks and rivers, turn half of Torakina Reserve into a carpark and to deck over a large area of Banner Park is basically a bunch of city based developers. It was chaired by the ex CEO of Lend Lease and Westfield Developments. Other executives included the ex property and leasing manager of Bunnings and McDonalds, the ex director of development for Landcom and a host of other high-flying marketing and development specialists from the private sector.
Crown Land is legislated to be cared for according to strict environmental, conservation, recreational and equity of access principles. This ‘trust’ is meant to ensure the protection of our natural spaces and vegetation but their Brunswick Heads Plans of Management are all about exclusion, cutting down trees, cementing over parks and building out any recreational space they can get their hands on. The 2014 Plans of Management show that Brunswick Heads is about to loose thousands of square metres of its best riverside parklands because what should be a conservation based authority has been stacked with developers. While this ‘trust’ would have incredible expertise in building carparks and plenty of connections in the construction industry, these are not the skills required of a ‘trust’ appointed to care for our foreshore parks.
So what is this really all about? The real reason behind this proposed new carpark is blatantly clear to me. If you want to build any commercial enterprise you must provide a certain amount of new car parking spaces in close proximity, you cannot rely on existing ones. So the question that really needs to be answered is what kind of additional developments does the ‘trust’ have in store for Torakina Reserve and what commercial purpose will that huge 400-square-metre deck on Banner Park be used for?
A dozen NSW Liberals took millions of dollars in illegal donations from developers last election, especially around the Newcastle area. It would appear an investigation is well overdue. An election is coming, you know what to do!
Sean O’Meara, Brunswick Heads.