Posts Tagged ‘Blue Mountains City Council’

Centre for Planetary Health hypocrisy

Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

There is a legacy of hoaxes, scams, cons, white elephants, crazy schemes and plans, wacky ideologies and bandwagon movements globally (since before the notorious Dutch Tulip Mania of 1634), and including sadly throughout Australia; also indeed right here in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

Possibly the worst on the cards currently is Blue Mountains {city} Council’s conjured up ‘Centre for Planetary Health Initiative‘, which is set to re-purpose its disused and ultimately failed Katoomba Golf Course situated on the western edge of Katoomba.   

Actually, it seems that this initiative was not Council’s idea, but introduced from Western Sydney University via an intermediary we shall say.  Those in Council’s ivory tower chambers, situated aloof from town, appear to have been hoodwinked by some cult-type global noble phenomenon, termed ‘Planetary Health‘.

Planetary Health is an interesting construct.   Where did this crop up from?   Well, our research shall soon reveal the background to this latest fad in subsequent articles.

A decade after Katoomba Golf Course inevitably went broke in 2013, this exotic religious ornament propped up unannounced on Council’s old Katoomba Golf Course site just outside the old club house.  Perhaps the timing was just after Blue Mountains [city} Council forking out $3.3 million of ratepayers’ funds to buy back the golf course that it had originally owned. 

We presume this obelisk is not Aboriginal, but may have arrived from a falling comet from the Cosmos, else some Council notional ‘Kumbaya’ committee thought bubble.  Who knows?

 

A PLANETARY HEALTH CULT OBELISK?   But why here?  How much did this ugly monstrosity cost?  Who ultimately paid for it – local ratepayers?

 

So who on Council arranged this ugly cult thing at Council’s defunct Katoomba Golf Course? 

Back on 8th October 2019, nearby Radiata Plateau outside Katoomba was sold by the Indian religious cult, the Transcendental Meditation Organization (TMO), to the NSW Government Minister for the Environment (NPWS), Matt Kean for $2.8 million.   So is this where the TMO ended up, quid pro quo? 

A zoom-in of this ‘cult-thing’ to some maharishi yogi…

IMPOST ON LOCALS:  Katoomba Golf Course now some cult site?   By Blue Mountains Council?,  NPWS Parks Service?,  TMO?  What is going on here?

 

Clearly something odd is going down in Council’s ivory tower over in North Katoomba.  Katoomba residents around the old golf course are not impressed, especially local dog walkers being denied by Council off-leash access on the 30-hectare golf course.

Planetary Healthseems to be some motherhood construct.   It conveys a sense of ‘warm and fuzzy’ do-gooding.   The choice combined wording is a syntax slogan morally is difficult to criticise.  This ‘initiative’ sounds wonderful in concept and hard to morally criticise, so IT MUST BE GOOD?   Good for the planet and good for health?  Such is what propaganda is about.  We suspect this is a deliberate propaganda ploy by another organised social movement.  We shall explore this background.

The Habitat Advocate has been in The Mountains since 2001.  We didn’t come down in the last shower.  We have experienced dealing with Blue Mountains {city} Council especially on matters negatively impacting Katoomba Falls Creek Valley as a member (2002-2008) of the Friends of Katoomba Falls Creek Valley Incorporated.  This includes protesting against the now defunct 30 odd hectare Katoomba Golf Course and its expansionism and residential developments.  

Local residents, again, are concerned with Blue Mountains Council’s motives and undisclosed plans and ends for this public land site that has a record of dodgy ‘Confidential Business Papers, secret closed-door council meetings and deals dubbed ‘commercial-in-confidence’, all the while council has repeatedly wasted ratepayers’ funds for decades in order to bail out its hair-brained golfing mates’ developments and expansions. 

 

A bit of relevant history:

 

Back in 1920, a group of local Katoomba businessmen (golfers) initially set up ‘The South Katoomba Land Company Limited‘ having the idea of leasing bushland on the edge of Katoomba near the Jamison Valley escarpment from then custodial owners ‘The Council of the Municipality of Katoomba‘ (now Blue Mountains {city} Council) –  to deforest the bushland and watercourse in order to convert the land use into a convenient local golf links for their golfing leisure.  This was the heyday of golf, popular up to the 1960s.  

Council was very obliging, probably because many of the then male councillors enjoyed playing few rounds.   ‘The South Katoomba Land Company Limited‘ morphed into becoming Katoomba Golf Club Ltd and so had the golf links constructed – we suspect with generous financial support from Council’s ratepayers’ funds.  This will become evident by reading further. 

By 1923, it was a 9-hole golf course replete with a moderate club house.  It was popular and became crowded, so by 1927, double the bushland was deforested eastward and northward to expand it into an 18-hole golf course. 

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Over the decades, Council then acquired adjoining bushland sites to expand the size of the golf course out to about 74 acres (30 hectares).  That’s 300,000 m2, or the equivalent area of 550m x 550m – a big chunk of bushland, which included a watercourse and series of natural swamps – all graded and swallowed up – bugger the ecology!  Golf being more important, like Council’s bulldozed Catalina car racing track nearby in The Gully in 1957!  This was all in the same Katoomba Falls Creek Valley natural water catchment above Katoomba Falls.

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Later in May 1991, it was Council itself that proposed funding the tenants of the golf course, Katoomba Golf Club Ltd, a massive residential expansion development proposal.

 

Council labelled its own initiated development ‘Katoomba Golf Resort and Spa‘.  It was an A3-sized spiral-bound booklet of 30 pages including promotional ‘artist impression’ watercolour drawings that included a proposed large 2-storey club house including a licensed hotel, multiple function facilities and 48-room ‘lodge’ accommodation in two adjoining side wings either side of the club house/hotel.   

So, a conflict of interest by Council as custodial landlord of this public land to fund a commercial tenant’s recreational interests, or what?   

Here are a few extracts of that proposal commission by Blue Mountains {city} Council via its outsourced developer Leisure Lea Corporation to St Leonard’s based architects John Bruce and Partners: 

 

Council’s May 1991 Development Application residential expansion for its tenant on community land, Katoomba Golf Club.  Note the lower map portion off Narrowneck Road to be replete with a residential golfing village.

 

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Note that multiple golf fairways/holes were to be re-purposed so driving the need to maintain the golf club’s 18-hole golf course offering by Council’s acquisition and re-zoning of surrounding community bushland.  This was an ongoing programme of destructive environmental expansionism for the pursuit of a dying pastime – Golf.   The architectural costs of this plan would have been considerable – all paid by local ratepayers.   

Just one of many examples of Blue Mountains [city} Council’s secret deals concerning its dodgy secrecy with their golfing mates, whilst exploiting ratepayers’ funds behind closed doors:

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This is Blue Mountains {city} Council hypocrisy in spades.  Since when has Blue Mountains {city} Council been trusted?

Katoomba Golf Course ultimately went broke, first during Council’s re-zoned residential development and sale to Noroton Holdings Pty Limited, then by Reed Constructions in 2013.   Council all the while schemed with the lessee and successive developers behind closed-door backroom deals, misappropriating Blue Mountains ratepayers’ funds to prop up this dated golfing failed venture. 

Outcome?  A dog’s breakfast. 

 

Local dog walkers:  What’s all this planetary bandwagon thing?  We just wanna go for a walk across the defunct golf course. 

 

The Katoomba Golf Course had gone broke in 2013 basically due to the lack of local general interest in playing golf.   The similar demise has afflicted the antiquated courses at  Lawson, Wentworth Falls, and Leura, and decades ago the one at Mount Victoria once attached to the Victoria and Albert Hotel harking from before The Great War.

So over time, disused golf clubs incrementally have sold off their land for housing development.   Notably, this includes the golf clubs at Leura, Wentworth Falls and Katoomba.  The defunct Lawson golf course remained in Council ownership, and being so remote, Council proposed no housing development to be viable.

Back to Katoomba Golf Course…

 

PLANETARY DESTRUCTION:  Blue Mountains Council’s flogging off acreage from Katoomba Golf Course to residential property developers for high-density urban housing resembling inner Sydney. This was the third fairway from the original 9-hole course opened in May 1923.   Now this 6-metre-high cut-and-fill slag heap (March 2023) resembles the Sphinx at Gallipoli.

 

‘The Sphinx’ was really a remnant outcrop of the Sari Bair range above ANZAC Cove 25th April 1915 following British and French naval bombardment of the sandstone escarpment.

 

Our Blue Mountains (‘The Mountains’) have a destructive bombardment record of deforestation of this valley to suit its own ends backing selfish indulgences of wealthy business people wishing to indulge in their sporting pastimes – like playing golf, and watching car racing, and profiting from amusements parks (like Catalina and Scenic World).   Cultural spots don’t change.

Council’s old business paper records reveal that near Blackheath some enterprising nutter once proposed Australian prime ministers’ equivalent gouging like Mount Rushmore be carved into the west facing escarpment of Fortress Ridge, so viewable to tourists from Govetts Leap Lookout on the western side of the Gross Gorge, plus a glass elevator shaft up and down Bridal Veil Falls nearby.  There used to be cattle grazing in the Blue Gum Forest and Kanangra and previously in the mid 19th Century, the colonial government of NSW proposed building a railway line up the Grose River Gorge from Windsor to Lithgow.

Exploitative damage to The Mountains natural landscape, along with the permanent destruction of native habitat, has been encouraged by successive governments since 19th Century English immigrant ‘robber baron’ John Britty North’s deforestation and mining exploits of Katoomba in the 1870s.  

Now a decade after Katoomba Golf Course went into liquidation in 2013 and lay abandoned for a decade,  Council since 2020 indulged $3.3 million of Blue Mountains ratepayers’ funds to buy back the golf course and club house.

Government’s latest hair-brained scheme like this failed Katoomba Golf Course site smells surely of more Blue Mountains {city} Council’s PR greenwashing again.  ‘Blue Mountains Centre for Planetary Health’.  Seriously?

Research the history of this 30-hectare site to begin to understand our cynicism.  Where to start?  Start with our thirty-year knowledge and environmental protest legacy perhaps.

The site was Community land.  The original Katoomba Golf Club leased the lands from the land holder Blue Mountain Council in 1920.

Check this document.  A Declaration of Trust with Council that the land only be used for recreation…

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Embarrassingly so, Blue Mountains {city} Council re-imagined a re-purposing of its failed golf club from a century since 1920.  Bureaucrats are slow learners.  Actually, they most never learn from their mistakes because they are granted impunity from any accountability.   The head honcho fat cat bureaucrats in BMCC senior management are still there, raking it in for themselves and wrecking the joint.

This is our previous article on this matter from 2013: 

Katoomba Golf Club’s escarpment vandalism

 

References:

 

[1]    ‘Declaration of Trust‘, between  The South Katoomba Land Company Limited to The Council of the Municipality of Katoomba, 28th January 1920, declaring said specified council land in Katoomba for the sole purpose of lessee use for golf links, as witnessed by Hughes & Hughes solicitors of 26 Hunter Street Sydney, (3 pages), resourced from The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive – Topic Group ‘F2: Valley Threats Katoomba Golf Course’;

 

[2]   ‘Katoomba Golf and Resort Spa Resort‘ land-use development proposal, Development Agreement Documents, May 1991, by John Bruce + Partners (architects) for Ted Stirling PGA of Golf Development Resources, resourced from The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive – Topic Group ‘F2: Valley Threats Katoomba Golf Course’, A3-size, 30 pages;   

 

[3]   ‘Katoomba Golf Club membership brochure‘, circa 1999, 2 pages, resourced from The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive – Topic Group ‘F2: Valley Threats Katoomba Golf Course’;

 

[4]   ‘Item C3 in Confidential Business Paper – Katoomba Golf Course Development‘, 12 Nov 2002, ‘Quality Local Government’, Ordinary Meeting business paper Page 17, Blue Mountains {city} Council , File No: H00003, 1 page, resourced from The Neil Lewis Stuart Archive – Topic Group ‘F2: Valley Threats Katoomba Golf Course’;

 

[5]    ‘Tulip Mania‘ speculative frenzy, Holland [17th-century], by Doug Ashburn, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2024-05-07,  ^https://www.britannica.com/money/Tulip-Mania

 

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