David Gray would like to set one thing straight; he doesn’t want to take over Manfred Park.
That’s the impression he says some have gained from his bid for vehicular access to a portion of the park in southern Auburn Street that he bought from the council in 2012.
At that time the council sold off 5588 square metres on the park’s northern side, including the Old Band Hall fronting Clinton Street, after deeming it excess. Its ‘community land’ classification sparked public exhibition and a hearing before the land was sold.
Since then, Mr Gray has built his refrigeration, airconditioning and electrical business on the Band Hall site. But there’s a slight hitch with his remaining land at the rear, split by a large stormwater drain.
“It’s landlocked,” he told The Post.
“When this was sold why didn’t the council have the foresight to say how it would be accessed? It is residential on both sides and commercial on the other so there is no access.”
Mr Gray wants to eventually build a small residential development on this parcel. He recently approached the council to consider granting him vehicular access over a narrow strip of the park, beside Auburn Cottage. In the event this was not possible, he asked for a boundary adjustment.
But councillors refused the request on Growth, Strategy and Culture director Louise Wakefield’s recommendation. This was due to the fact the land was still classified community and could not be sold under the Local Government Act without reclassification and another public process.The council encouraged Mr Gray to firstly negotiate with nearby private landowners for access before the reclassification could be considered.
He says he’ll do so but he doesn’t hold out much hope.
“I can’t see anyone saying ‘yes, come and drive through my place,’” Mr Gray said.
Another house in the vicinity only has single lane access and is not suitable for his residential development, which requires dual lane.
Instead, Mr Gray wants about a six-metre strip beside Auburn Cottage on the parkland. It would also be a drainage easement and the rest of the park would retain its community classification.
Council planners have ruled out construction of a bridge from his Clinton Street business over the stormwater drain as an access option.
While Mr Gray is in no hurry, he’s hoping to build townhouses on the block, capitalising on demand for accommodation close to the CBD and Goulburn’s growing population.
“We could incorporate the development into a super plan for Manfred Park,” he said.
“There’s a lot you could do, (including) a bike track, swing sets and a barbecue area – something the community could use.”
Mr Gray plans to pursue the access issue further. But for now he just wants people to know he’s not after the whole park.
“I just want access to the land I bought,” he said.
“I knew (there were issues) when I bought it but I didn’t think it would be that hard. It’s become a bit of an arm wrestle.”