By ALLISON HORE
The City of Sydney has revealed two plans to halve the size of Moore Park Golf Course to unlock more public open space.
To transform part of the golf course into parklands, the City of Sydney has put together two options. The first option will see the parkland located to the north of Dacey Avenue on the western side of the course, while the other suggests turning the area south of Dacey Avenue into park. Both options would create 18 to 20 hectares of parkland.
Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore said changing land use and growing population density in the city’s east has highlighted the need to reclaim parts of the publicly-owned golf course for mixed recreational uses.
She said while city planners were working with developers to deliver forty urban parks and playgrounds, the large open space the golf course’s land provides was “much needed”.
“Small parks do not provide the opportunity to stride out, de-stress and recharge or renew and commune with nature for people living in high density apartments,” she said.
“They need this opportunity for their mental and physical wellbeing.”
Ms. Moore said when the golf course was established in 1913 the surrounding areas were mostly industrial. However, the areas of Redfern, Waterloo and Green Square have transformed significantly since then into some of the most dense residential areas in Australia. By 2031 the population is expected to have grown to 70,000 residents and 22,000 workers. The proposed Waterloo Estate would alone bring in an additional 15 to 20 thousand people.
The idea to decrease the size of the golf course is not new. A City of Sydney study into Open Space, Sport and Recreational Needs Study in 2016 suggested reducing the size of the course would free up green space to be used for a variety of leisure activities, not just one sport.
In September Ms. Moore presented the plan to reduce the size of the golf course to NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister, Rob Stokes who requested the Greater Sydney Parklands authority consider them.
Golf community backlash
Despite consideration from the NSW Government and support from the City of Sydney, the proposal is not without its critics. Liberal councillor Christine Forster told the Sydney Morning Herald she thought the proposal to shrink the size of the course was “preposterous” and Golf NSW has resoundingly rejected the idea since it was first floated.
Golf NSW chief executive Stuart Fraser told the Sydney Morning Herald in May that councils should “not underestimate” the community support for golf courses.
Mr. Fraser said the gold facilities at Moore Park was one of Sydney’s busiest and had demonstrated its value to the community in the form of physical and mental health benefit as well as financial. In the last financial year, the golf course earned $4 million for the Centennial and Moore Park Trust.
But data from Ausplay showing sport and recreation participation shows that golf club membership and participation rates are on the decline and walking, one of the most popular uses of the parklands, is increasing. Ms. Moore added that while 31 million people visit Centennial Parklands each year, just 60,000 rounds of golf are played on the Moore Park Golf Course.
And avid golfers will not miss out, says the City of Sydney, as there are twelve existing 18-hole golf courses within a 10km radius of Moore Park, 6 of which are open to the public.
Moore Park is Australia’s 3rd most used public golf course, and 85 percent of its players live within 10 kilometers of the facility.