By: Darius Oliver
Further to recent news of the La Trobe University evicting the Strathallan Golf Course from its home of more than fifty years, comes a fiery article in the local Leader newspaper attacking the school for the possible redevelopment.
Among a number of passionate, and welcome, pro-golf quotes comes this gem from Bundoora State MP Colin Brooks, “the golf course is fantastic and it’s a bit like the movie Crackerjack, it’s just a really genuine part of the local community and it’s worth fighting for.”
We couldn’t agree more, and question why La Trobe University purchased the land in the first place, given Vice Chancellor Professor John Dewar’s recent remarks, that the golf course was not in the strategic interests of the university.
Built within an area zoned as Public Park-Recreation, the golf course was established in the 1950s by staff and patients of a nearby mental hospital, primarily as a means of providing them with recreational, and secure, green open space. The land was sold to La Trobe in the 1990s, years after the hospital was closed down.
The University is hoping for re-zoning of the land, and to remove the 9-hole course and replace it with an urban development.
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LA TROBE University has come under fire for a “smoke screen” consultation over the future of Strathallan Golf Course.
Supporters of the golf course slammed the university last week after it revealed a vision for the 18 ha site that included urban development.
Bundoora state Labor MP Colin Brooks said it would be wrong for the university to sell the “environmental asset” for development.
“The golf course is fantastic and it’s a bit like the movie Crackerjack, it’s just a really genuine part of the local community and it’s worth fighting for,” he said.
The university owns the course and is locked in a dispute with Strathallan Golf Club, which must vacate the land by January 2019.
La Trobe vice chancellor Professor John Dewar said last month a golf course was not in the strategic interests of university and flagged development of homes, sporting facilities and bike trails.
The university will hold public information sessions on August 26 and September 3 and has long said it would consider local views on maintaining the environmental value of the site.
But Mr Brooks said dismissing the golf course from the start “called into question the use of the consultation process”.
“I want to work with (the university), but this golf course issue makes it very difficult,” he said.
Strathallan Golf Club secretary Geoff Blackwood dismissed the consultation as a “smoke screen”.
“It is difficult to understand what is fact and what is spin … it would appear that their mind is already made up,” he said.
Darebin Councillor Susanne Newton called on the university to put the golf course back on the table.
“As a council we are committed to retaining the land as open space (and) I’m disappointed by La Trobe’s announcement,” she said.
The council will receive a report this month on purchasing the land through public acquisition.
Councillors voted to explore the option against the recommendations of officers, who warned it would be extremely costly and time consuming.
“Together with the local community, we will develop an exciting vision for the site that will best meet the future needs of the local and broader region,” said Prof Dewar.
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