Council today refused to include either commercial or community markets in its review of the Nielson Park Land Use Management Plan by a vote of 9 : 1 (Cr. Bush was an apology). In essence, this now means that this section of Bargara’s foreshore will not be able to be considered for any type of scheduled market activity.

A previous applicant for markets in the Nielson Park area spent nearly two years jumping through bureaucratic hoops before walking away from his project.

In 2011 another applicant submitted an application to conduct commercially operated markets in the same area on Sunday mornings. 

On 1st November 2011 Council granted him an approval.

Three weeks later, Council recommended that the approval be overturned because it had mistakenly issued it without considering the existing Land Use Management Plan.

Instead of overturning the decision, I asked Council to at least keep the application alive by holding the approval in abeyance until the Plan could be reviewed.

During the subsequent review process the applicant has amended the application a number of times in an attempt to address the concerns raised by various individuals and entities. This has included three changes to the exact locality within the park and the day of operation (from Sunday to Saturday). Eventually he settled for the area of parkland to the immediate north of the amenities block and in the general vicinity of the former skating rink.

Since then, there has been considerable controversy regarding the proposal with strong support for both sides of the debate. Unfortunately, in the process there was considerable misinformation peddled claiming that comercially operated markets would lead to the full commercialisation of the land including permanent structures and even high-rise buildings! It was also claimed that the section of land in question is well used and the market activity would restrict the community’s ability to use and enjoy it.

To determine just how much this section of land is used by the community, I visited it for five weeks in a row between 10.20am & 10.50am on Saturday mornings from 3rd November 2012 to 1st December 2012. I took the following photos of the area noting that this would be at a time right in the middle of the time the proposed markets would be in operation:-

10.20am, Saturday 3rd November 2012

10.35am, Saturday 10th November 2012

10.50am, Saturday 17th November 2012

10.45am, Saturday 24th November 2012

10.40am, Saturday 1st December 2012

On every occasion that I’ve been to the site, I’ve taken note of the minimal amount of traffic on this dead-end section of roadway and also the slow speed of vehicles due to existing speed humps. I’ve also been mindful that the site is no-where near permanent residences and would have zero impact on nearby homeowners. You will also note from the photos that on each of the five Saturday mornings in a row, not one person was using the park. From those perspectives, I thought that the location was ideal for casual open-air markets which would provide another attraction for Bargara.

Today a report was presented to Council’s Ordinary Meeting at Item N4 (Page 273) providing details of the results of the public consultation process. The report and results can be viewed here. The results have been broken down into several sections which address a range of issues related to the Management Plan. In relation to the overall responses for commercial markets, the results were 439 in favour and 311 against.

After the debate, the Council voted by 9 : 1 to exclude both commercial & community markets from the Management Plan which has now sounded the death knell for any future markets in that region as the Plan will not be scheduled for review for at least a decade.

The reasons that were presented by Councillors in the argument against the markets included:

  • direct competition for other business in Bargara
  • the Railway Picnics could start up again and may need to use the land
  • the markets wouldn’t be utilised on Saturday mornings as families have sporting commitments & go shopping
  • the Reserve would be damaged by weekly markets
  • there’s alack of availabile land for community use
  • markets should only be held on commercial properties
  • the land should be reserved for watching birds, nature,walking & riding
  •  the land should be kept aside for one-off community events
  • we need this green space especially as we recover from the floods
  • the land should be kept for weddings, sporting events & a surf school

Whilst I’m duty-bound to respect the majority decision of Council, I certainly don’t support it.


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