Riders rail against Blackheath land sale

Rallying point: Residents and bike riders at Hat Hill Road on July 8.
Rallying point: Residents and bike riders at Hat Hill Road on July 8.

Blackheath residents continued their campaign against plans to sell council land at Hat Hill Road for housing on Sunday, July 8, holding a bike riding display at the local jump track which will be lost as part of the development.

Residents watched a display of bike riding skills before signing a new petition asking for more consultation on the contentious issue.

While the council has announced plans for a replacement track beyond the development site, local riders have not been won over by this concession.

“It is flat hard dirt, in full sun, right beside the road. It’s totally unsuitable, we wouldn’t use it,” said 16-year-old Will Commens.

“I don’t think it’s fair that the councillors, who don’t ride bikes themselves, haven’t asked us what would be good. We’d really like just to keep this track, we’ve put so much work into it.”

Teacher and local residents Neal Farebrother said there were “some spectacular skills on display [on the day], all of which have been developed by the riders themselves at the track”.

“The older teenage riders actively encourage the younger ones and help them learn new skills, confidence and risk management. It’s a very positive peer support environment.”

“We want to show the councillors that this is a widely used and valuable resource for our community,” said Mike Corkin, event organiser and mountain biker, whose 10-year-old son rides at the track regularly.

“We seem to have council policies encouraging active sports so why destroy what’s already here? We’d like to discuss if this small part of the development site could be reserved as it is for future generations of families to enjoy.”

Councillors voted for the land sale on March 13, with funds from the eventual sale of the 45 block subdivision going towards the Springwood Civic Centre precinct redevelopment.

Organisers of the July 8 rally said the area has been a recreation facility for more than 50 years, “where successive generations of kids and teenagers have been able to ride their bikes, build jumps, dig tracks and create their own adventure play area”.