Click here to view the CNRG Statement of Purpose

Who are we?

Community of Nicholls Residents Group Inc (CNRG) is a not-for-profit Association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory. 

We are a group of concerned citizens from Nicholls and the suburbs surrounding Gold Creek responding to ongoing attempts over many years to redevelop and/or rezone the Gold Creek Golf Course.

Why are we here?

We are responding to the “Re:imagine Gold Creek” campaign” www.reimaginegoldcreek.com.au. The campaign has been launched suddenly and with a pre-formed agenda of rezoning and change to the land usage of the current Gold Creek Golf Course.

What do we want to achieve?

We can summarise our concerns into six objectives:

1. A transparent community consultation process

Any consultation or engagement process be transparent and impartial and be seen by all to be transparent and impartial

The current process of consultation is flawed. The terms of reference, process for engagement, and payment for consultation services have all been controlled by an interested party: the Developer. The professional services firm engaged cannot be independent in its findings, or maintain a perception of independence.

Now that the consultation process has commenced, the evidence is already strong that it will deliver a recommendation for redeveloping the Gold Creek Golf Course, irrespective of feedback. This is hard-wired in the campaign name “Re:imagine Gold Creek”, as well as in a poorly designed online survey. The option of “no change” and the question of “why should we change” is not being considered in this consultation. This is a more fundamental question that should be assessed before proceeding to ask “what change do we want to see”

We conclude the process has been pre-engineered to ensure land redevelopment and infill as an outcome.

2. Open space and amenity should be preserved

That the amenity, open space and wildlife habitat and setting be preserved

We value the accessibility and amenity offered by the golf course, the recreational facilities and the neighbouring nature reserve at Percival Hill.

It is a primary reason why people moved to Nicholls. It is a reason why people stay in Nicholls. It is a reason why people invested heavily to border the golf course. It is a differentiator of Canberra over most other cities. It is a feature of the tourist appeal combining space with the Gold Creek Village.

The golf course and surrounds are unique in Canberra, as home to a significant mob of kangaroos. The kangaroos depend upon the open space to traffic between grazing areas around the suburb.

Numerous water birds depend upon the dams and water courses. Other wildlife abounds, thanks also to the neighbouring nature park at Percival Hill. Infilling this area will have a detrimental effect on the wildlife.

The proposed future development of the CSIRO land across the Barton H’way from Nicholls will remove a very large area of open green space, making the GCGC area even more critical to retain for the future.

Any changes to the usage of the land must preserve the same level of amenity and open space.

3. Land values should be preserved

That consequential losses are measured, minimised and compensated by the Developer contributing to those losses.

Consequential losses may - and most likely will – arise relating to land and property values in Nicholls. A protracted and high profile consultation campaign, targeting rezoning and infill, and commenced prior to a Development Application being submitted, may have serious impacts on property demand in the suburb and surrounds. We believe this is occurring now. Several properties for sale in Nicholls have had bids withdrawn as a direct consequence of the announcement. Some loss estimates go as high as $250K/property. There are 130 blocks adjacent to the golf course and nearly 3000 affected residences in total. Who pays? Will Betterment Tax apply?

The Developer must put in place a process of ‘baselining’ property values and then measure those baselined values over the period of the proposed changes to allow consequential losses to be determined and compensation paid to all property owners suffering losses.

This should happen prior to making public statements about the future of the land. This has not been done.

4. Previous commitments should be honoured

The Developer should honour its promises to spend $15m on ancillary recreational facilities and retain an 18 hole championship-level golf course.

The Government should honour its promise for the land to be kept as open space and not used as a land bank.

The Developer hasn’t done what it promised to do. Transparency around the terms and conditions of the lease and any subsequent variations is essential to demonstrate that the legal obligations of the Developer have been met in full.

The 2014 Crown Lease is clear that the Developer must maintain a championship golf course of at least 18 holes. Other commitments to provide a minimum level of community development, consistent with the existing zoning, should be met.

On 10 November 2005, Simon Corbell on behalf of the Government, said, in formal evidence to the Standing Committee on Planning and Environment (Chaired by the current Planning Minister Mick Gentleman), that “the government made it clear we are not selling this golf course so that someone can land bank it for five or ten years and then seek to change it into residential. We want to sell it to someone who is serious about running it as a golf course and recreational leisure facility”.

5. Certainty about the long-term nature of Nicholls and surrounding areas should be ensured

That long-term changes are addressed once, to the certainty of all stakeholders.

The current process has not been carried out in isolation. It has been part of an incremental campaign of redevelopment straying from the original intent of the lease and the land.

Each incremental change has failed to identify the nature of the subsequent change. For example, the Re:imagine Campaign and redevelopment proposed for the Golf Course was not identified as recently as 2014 when ACTPLA approved sub-division for a business precinct.

Past evidence demonstrates that further unidentified changes will happen again in the future unless stopped now.

We strongly resist attempts to vary the Territory Plan away from a golf course and/or to rezone and redevelop the land. To do otherwise in a growing and dynamic locale of Gungahlin sets an exceptionally worrying precedent for other recreational open spaces in Canberra and thus, could have flow-on effects for all Canberrans. This is a fundamental requirement underpinning business and residential confidence. People have made life decisions around home selection on the basis of the land zoning.

6. Retention of the golf course in its current form

That the golf course remain as a 18 hole championship-level course

The vast majority of residents believe strongly that the space as a championship-level golf course offers a unique setting.

This is supported by fee-paying golf club members.

The current arguments raised by the Re:imagine campaign to compress the space available for golf are flawed. We believe that demand remains consistent and options for those seeking to play a shorter game are already available. For instance, 18 holes expands the options to play 9 holes (2 hours) one day and then the other 9 holes (2 hours) the next time. The way the course is currently configured also offers a range of other shorter course options.

There must be serious doubt that a 9-hole course would be viable. It is likely that the remaining 9 holes would soon become a redevelopment option.

Redeveloping the proposed space will destroy the attraction and status of the golf course as one of championship quality.

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