Ordinary Council Meeting
19 April 2021
The meeting commences at 6.30pm. If members of the public are
not interested in any business recommended to be considered in
Closed Session or there is no such business, Council will ordinarily
commence consideration of all other business at 7pm.
Record No: SU5606 - 21634/21
Division: Lane Cove Council
Author(s): Councillor Pam Palmer
At our last Council Meeting I submitted a Mayoral Minute prompted by statements by Minister Stokes’ about synthetic fields which had been reported just the previous day (14 March 2021) in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Today I met with community representatives concerned about Council’s response to the Minister’s remarks. I would therefore like to provide another update on the process in relation to Council’s plans for Bob Campbell Oval.
The statements from Minister Stokes arose after questions raised in Budget Estimates on 9 March, 2021.
Council was advised that the way Budget Estimates work is that the Minister has 21 days post the Committee date to formalise their response to questions asked. The document provided below is the Minister’s official response to the question and does not mention a review: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/other/15434/QONS%20-%20Hon%20Rob%20Stokes.pdf
9 March - Minister Stokes in Budget Estimates
“I am aware, and I have actually read a couple of studies in relation to this matter. Obviously playing fields are subject to intensive use and one of the benefits of synthetic ovals is that they require a far lesser use of land for those active sporting needs than fertilising vast, and alienating vast, swathes of open space for that purpose. If you can actually focus that in a much more concentrated way—I mean, there are environmental externalities associated with sporting fields generally—on a surface that is capable of being used much more regularly that can actually have some positive environmental effects as well. But I am happy to take it on notice and get you some further information.”
“…the Department [of Planning] was satisfied that the project nominations for the Scheme were consistent with the community’s demand for improved public recreation spaces.”
12 March – press release from Minister Stokes to SMH
“I am sufficiently concerned about the environmental impacts raised by the community and academics and will ask the Department to examine what alternative technologies or techniques exist to maximise the use of community sporting facilities without hurting our environment.”
The community has now brought to my attention the latest comments from the Government, as reported in Hansard:
12 April - Minister for Mental Health, Regional Youth and Women representing the Minister for Planning and Public Spaces in response to David Shoebridge
“The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is currently undertaking a research study into the risks and benefits of Synthetic Turf. This will include a full review of the environmental, social and economic impacts.
A number of proposed planning reforms, legislation and policies are being developed to improve public space outcomes for NSW:
• The draft Explanation of Intended Effect for the Design and Place SEPP proposes a mandatory matter for consideration of 'no net loss of open space' and 'to increase the provision and diversity of open spaces'. It emphasises the importance of planning and delivering green open spaces for the community.
• Greener Places is a design framework produced by Government Architect NSW to guide the planning, design, and delivery of green infrastructure in urban areas across NSW. It includes four design principles, one of which is multifunctionality. Multifunctional green spaces should be high-quality and high performing, producing, social, environmental, and economic benefits.
• The Greater Sydney Recreation Needs Report is currently being finalised and will consider the need for multifunctional public open spaces to meet increasing demand for adaptable spaces that can cater for changing needs, cultural diversity and trends of differing activities.”
Council has not yet been advised formally of the study mentioned, nor received a response from Minister Stokes’ office after writing to him as resolved at the last Council Meeting. However, at a recent meeting between Council staff and DPIE staff who are administering the grant program, the Minister’s comments were discussed, and there was no suggestion that Council’s project would be impacted or that Council should delay its project.
Staff will therefore continue to develop a design based on best practice. This has included looking at international best practice, which has taken some extra time. Staff will be applying to DPIE to delay the current program, however this will not impact Council’s intention to commence construction upon completion of the Greenwich Village Games in December 2021.
Once the research is complete, the detailed design and supporting documents will be subject to further refinement. The final design will then be submitted for finalisation of the REF, and the final REF and all supporting documentation will be published, as resolved. Then, should the REF support the use of synthetic turf in this location, the next step will be to call for tenders.
In summary, the next steps are:-
1. Refine the design according to best environmental practice;
2. Finalise the design and all supporting documents;
3. Finalise the REF;
4. Publish all documents; and
5. If synthetic turf supported, proceed to tender.
That the report be received and noted.
Councillor Pam Palmer