Katoomba Chamber of Commerce and Community (KCCC) and its supporters are preparing to bombard councillors in a campaign against plans to reclassify community land in Katoomba’s Pioneer Place and Studleigh Place car parks.
They say rezoning the land as ‘operational’ would allow the council to sell it or change its use without consulting ratepayers.
Councillors are due to vote on the issue on November 27 although a council spokeswoman said the matter could now be deferred following strong community objections at a public meeting on October 8.
“Council is currently reconsidering the proposed approach to the land reclassification” which may lead to a new option to defer a decision on the matter “until such time as an adopted master plan is in place for these parcels of land”, the spokeswoman said.
KCCC president Mark Jarvis said the council acknowledged at the public meeting “there has been no master plan made for Pioneer Place (north) and they (council staff) kept saying they had done the minimum consultation required, but we say that’s just not good enough”.
“This is not just a small business issue, it is a community issue.”
The council spokeswoman said making the land ‘operational’ would align it with the southern portion of Pioneer Place and make it easier for the council to carry out upgrades to the car park.
But Mr Jarvis argued the council “can already upgrade or maintain the car parks under the community land zoning” and pointed out Coles owns the former Franklins site, the former Civic Video building and former Sydney Water office located on three sides of Pioneer Place.
He said if shops were built on the land it would be devastating for Katoomba Street. Even if the land remained a car park, there would be the potential for council” to transfer it into private hands without public consultation”, he said.
Mr Jarvis said the Studleigh Place car park needs to be safeguarded because it is “the only drop off point for St Canice’s Primary School and has the only set of public toilets in Katoomba Street”.
The council spokeswoman said “whilst Studleigh Place is recognised as a site with potential for future development, council has no plans to develop the land and/or sell the land at this stage”.
She said “the intent is that Pioneer Place will remain a public car park/public space” as other council car parks classified as operational land are in Leura, Lawson, Springwood and Blaxland town centres.
Local resident Gary Humble said the land in north Pioneer Place was donated or sold for a nominal price by Katoomba Street shop owners to council in the 1970s for the community’s benefit.
“The community needs to know what council is doing with our land,” Mr Humble said.