By Joe Bourke
Speculation is mounting over the future of Wentworth Park as the inquiry into Greyhound Racing NSW heats up and the inner city property market booms.
The nearby Bays Precinct is set to house 16,000 new residents and last weekend the Minister for Housing Brad Hazzard announced a $170 million development of 500 apartments on nearby Cowper Street, Glebe.
The area is the most densely populated precinct in Australia, and as well as greyhound racing, Wentworth Park is used for rugby union, rugby league and soccer.
Ultimo resident Bill d’Anthes told City Hub the community was concerned “about everything” due to a pressing need for more open space.
“The problem is that there’s so little open space per capita so we’re worried about the loss of anything,” he said.
“It’s just such a worry that we’re not going to have the infrastructure to service all of these people.”
Chief Executive of the Wentworth Park Trust, Peter Mann, said that he would be “surprised” to see any more development at Wentworth Park.
“Lots more people will be living in the area with no more green spaces available, so whilst I could never say with certainty that there will be no more residential or commercial development on this site, it would be very surprising,” he said.
“The only kind of speculation you do hear isn’t from any reliable source… there has been nothing even approaching official on the subject.”
Last year, Fairfax Media reported on lease negotiations to sell the Wentworth Park Greyhound racetrack and create 700 apartments on the site. Although this plan was quickly denounced by the government, the development of the Harold Park raceway is fresh in the mind of local residents. The former raceway was converted to a 1300-lot residential area and opened last year.
A spokesperson for the Minister for Planning Rob Stokes told City Hub they were not aware of any decision to cease greyhound racing at Wentworth Park.
Convenor of Pyrmont Action Group, Elizabeth Elenius, said the government’s recent developments such as Barangaroo had caused the community to lose faith in the government.
“We don’t trust the government as far as we can kick them now. We’ve been so badly dudded in recent years that we don’t trust them at all and they seem to be hell bent on making our lack of trust worse,” she said.
The greyhound track’s suitability for future development has also been brought into question. Originally the Blackwattle Cove Swamp, it was infilled in the late 1800s using silt dredged from the harbour.
Mr Mann said he couldn’t see anything changing on the site in the near future.
“My guess is that in the short to medium future, nothing will change here in terms of its use,” he said.
“Our tenants all have long leases and are quite happy here.”