Frustration over Northcote Golf Club plan delays


“The future of the Northcote golf course was expected to come to the council after the consultation process and submissions hearing that had occurred more than five months ago,” she said.

“Why should we let the community think that we are potentially manipulating the findings or anything along those lines if we’re not releasing the raw data?”

The motion was supported by Councillor Gaetano Greco, Councillor Tim Laurence and Councillor Julie Williams but was voted down by the majority of the council – including Greens Councillor and Deputy Mayor Trent McCarthy, who has long advocated for wider public use of the site.

Although the consultation period closed in December, Mr McCarthy said the delay was due to discussions with the area’s traditional owners, the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation.

“I think it would be highly inappropriate for the council to release any of the consultation that we’ve received to date until that process has been completed,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Wurundjer Corporation said there had been preliminary discussions between the council and the corporation, but the board had not come to a formal position on the issue of the golf course.

Eyebrows were also raised when the council admitted that it had only considered 7000 of the 11,000 Responses received. Emails seen by The Sunday Age show a council Officer told a survey respondent that nearly 4000 Responses were sidelined because they were incomplete or Duplicated.

But Tim Holdsworth, a Northcote Resident and golfer, received submissions made by many people in the golfing community had been removed during the consultation process – including family members from the same household.

Mr Holdsworth, whose organization Northcote Community & Golf Hub has been backing from Peak body Golfing Australia, said there was frustration over the lack of transparency, and his members feared a pre-determined outcome to close the course.

He said the debate had unfairly painted the golf course as only being used by elite, older, white men.

“They just recently had their [LGBTIQ] Rainbow Cup, you have a lot of the local Aboriginal community play golf there, you have Greeks Italians, young people, old people, tradies after work stopping for games – that’s how public golf courses work, ”they said.

The lobby group has presented a plan for the golf greens to stay, but with some parts of the site opened up as conservation areas, walking trails and a pavilion. They got the proponents of having the space turned entirely into parkland were naive about how costly the space would be to maintain.

Tim Holdsworth of the lobby group ‘Northcote Community & Golf Hub’ with other local Golfers.Credit:Chris Hopkins

“Parks don’t derive any revenue, whereas the golf course gets revenue,” he said.

Ruth Liston, representing a group called the Community to Unlock Northcote Golf Course who created the original petition to allow the golf course to be used as parkland, said she thought the delay was “pretty standard”.

“You can receive a report from a Consultant and you still need to present the data in a particular way that’s unstable by the whole community,” she said. “I don’t believe they are manipulating the report in either way.”

Although she wants to see this golf end at the space she said she expected the results of the data would show “people want a variety of uses.”

Northcote is one of two public courses in the Darebin council area, with Bundoora Park Public Golf course 10 kilometers to the north-east.

The Northcote site’s lease as a public golf course expires on June 30 this year.

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