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Byron Shire
December 5, 2021

Part of Peace Park returns to the Nimbin Neighbourhood Centre

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Nimbin Neighbourhood Centre.

At last night’s final Council meeting for the term, Councillors looked at a Report of the General Manager for a request for part of Peace Park in Nimbin to be reclassified as Operational and transferred to Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre.

Council received a request from the Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre (NNIC) that part of the land at 9 Sibley Street, Nimbin (Peace Park) be transferred to them through a boundary adjustment with the adjoining property at 7 Sibley Street to facilitate the Sustainable Living Hub project.

A request that Council gift the land to the NNIC

Lismore City Council was involved in the development of a Master Plan for the site and advised NNIC that to address access and parking requirements, the Master Plan should include the adjoining land at Peace Park. NNIC has requested that Council gift the land to them because of the community’s involvement in the initial acquisition of Peace Park.

NNIC has also been maintaining part of the land ‘replacing weed-infested piles of rubbles and rubbish with gardens and caring for those areas’ and would retain the existing basketball court for the community’.

Transferring the land for anything less than market value would likely trigger section 356 of the Local Government Act 1993 which states a Council can contribute money or otherwise grant financial assistance to third parties in accordance with a resolution, subject to public notification requirements.

The report recommended that Council support NNIC’s proposal to gift them part of 9 Sibley Street through a boundary adjustment. If Council supported the disposal of public land, the land must first be reclassified from community to operational land through an amendment to the Local Environmental Plan 2012.

A report would also need to come back to Council to formally endorse the sale or gifting of the land if/when the reclassification is gazetted.

Big Rob from the car park

It seemed that the only person who didn’t like the idea was Big Rob, who during Public Access, spoke against the transfer, from outside of the building. ‘I come to you from the car park outside the chambers again because I’ve been segregated based on vaccination evidence.’

Mr Rob said he was concerned that Council, is in caretaker mode and is about to give away another “chunk of land” as a gift without considering various options that maybe may suit everyone including the Nimbin Neighbourhood Environment Centre, looking to take the land. ‘I understand they were heavily involved with acquiring land, paying for it and all that sort of thing. But it was passed to Council for a reason. And that reason, I believe, related to liability based around the skatepark and everything associated with that land.

‘Now I don’t see how that’s changed. Or I don’t see how breaking up a big chunk of public land is going to be beneficial to the people of Lismore. So, Lismore includes Nimbin.

‘Nimbin isn’t its own little place at the exclusion of everyone else, and things shouldn’t be done differently.

‘And I say that because, for years there’s been a community group trying to just seek permission to work on some public land – the Lismore Lake, for example – and we’re just hitting brick walls and it’s hopefully coming to an end in the next week or two, I hope.

‘In Nimbin, it seems, you know, you can get land given to you just because you asked for it. And once that land is given away once again, that organisation may exclude all others if they choose to do so, because it now becomes their land.

‘Also, being an incorporated association – I believe they are – that means anyone can take over that organisation at some point in the future and do unusual things that you know, aren’t the status quo, I guess, with that land…

Council in caretaker mode

‘But what my biggest concern is, coming back to the issues with Council and being in caretaker mode – this is a big decision. You know, I believe that land is going to be well over the threshold 150 of spending, so I don’t know if Council is trying to get around that by saying they’re not spending – but they’re going to lose a lot of money by just giving that land away, instead of looking at an open market sale.

‘They’re also going to have to incur considerable expense which they are going to try and get the Information Centre to pay for in reclassifying that land.’

Mr Rob also spoke about other issues with the transfer.

He concluded: ‘I think it’s something Council should really not make a decision on now. I think a Memorandum of Understanding or a lease or licence for the group to use the land for years. I think it needs to be dealt with in more detail by the next Council.’

Those for the proposal

Natalie Meyers spoke for the transfer of the land. ‘This has been something in the works for a very long time now, since before we acquired the site. The community centre would have always, if we’d known that Sibley street would have become available on the market, have taken that section of land out of the deal when the land was gifted over to Council.’

Ms Meyers said that the site had been identified for a sustainable living hub, also, they were concerned that if that property was sold off to an unsympathetic purchaser, it might cause problems for that whole skate park precinct down the track. ‘We were pretty keen to get our hands on that property if it came onto the market.

‘The reasons for wanting to do the boundary adjustment are, as we discussed with Council right from the point of purchase – the limitations of the site because of the access issues from the front of the block. Limits to disabled access to the site makes parking and vehicle access pretty tricky because it’s just a terrible access point.

‘In order to address access issues, parking disabled all the rest of it, it has always been suggested from the start, but it would be a good idea to section off that adjoining area of land and do a boundary adjustment and include that in the 7 Sibley Street title.

‘And as you know that parcel of land we’re talking about had already been bought by the community, purchased with funds that were raised through 10 years of donations and campaigns. Seven Sibley Street was also bought with community funds, purely through donations and fundraising campaigns. There was no public money put into that in terms of government funding.

‘We were really sad when we had to hand Peace Park over Council after so many years of raising the funds to buy that parcel of land. But unfortunately at the time, there was no way around, getting that skatepark development off the ground without that happening.

‘The community was never that happy about that having to happen. So we saw this as an opportunity to at least recover a small section of that land and put it back into community hands by a boundary adjustment and adjoining anything with 7 Sibley Street.

Classified as a community space

‘Seven Sibley Steet is already classified as “community” and will always be used for community purposes. The adjoining parcel land has always been envisaged to continue to be used as open recreational space, which is what the community wants for it and has clearly identified on numerous occasions how they want to see that land being used.

‘We, the Neighbourhood Centre, have taken on utilising the fringe boundary areas of that land and restoring and gardening them and making them so that you can walk around. 

‘For these reasons we think we’ve got a pretty good argument as to why it would be a good idea to give the land back to us via a boundary adjustment.’

Nimbin is an interesting place

Cr Neil Marks said that ‘like all things that come out of Nimbin, it’s an interesting proposal’.

‘This is a unique community within our larger community. They put things forward, they make things work, and the history of this piece of land that they’ve in fact purchased and gifted it to Lismore City Council is a testament to that. So all they’re doing is asking for a realignment and some of it back so they can continue their good work with the building they have renovated in Sibley Street.

‘It is a remarkable effort and their plans, whether you personally agree with them, and the way that they do things out in Nimbin that it is a little different, but they are a strong and surviving community.

‘For those who will be new on Council, I say if you can get on the Nimbin Advisory Group, if it still exists, and I’m sure it will, do it. It will be an eye-opener of how people can work together and share a genuine love of a community in that particular area – and then there’s a lot of other areas that could learn from it.

If there’s one community that can get it done, it’s Nimbin

‘So, I’m quite happy to put this forward to look at the plans and all the rest of it that will come forward to this Council with the work that they want to do, because if there’s one community that we have within our LGA that can get it done, it is the Nimbin community.’

There were no other speakers on the issue and Cr Ekins put the motion to a vote – it was carried unanimously.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Nimbin Peace Park . A must see for visiting Chinese and Russian tourists flying in to GC Airport. Following their wander around Point Danger & Rainbow Bay. Slight digression: AFL in China? A shout out to those Nimbin AFL footballers who were part of the Lismore Roos club formation back in the late 70’s. Mick Hamilton, Frank Reid + others. What a great time we had, many heavy losses but also memorable victories playing in the senior Gold Coast League against the likes of the Southport Sharks, who, after some seasons left the GC league for the BNE top league and win the GF in their 1st year. But look where AFL is today around the Nth Rivers, who could ever envisage that level of participation.

  2. Good of Big Rob to provide such a comprehensive set of reasons why Nimbin people, at least, would be most ill-advised to vote for him.

    Whether there are other parts of Lismore ‘City’ that would be well served by such attitudes will have to be decided by relevant locals.

    Be careful what you wish for folks!

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