More than 6200 people have signed a petition urging the council to approve a development application for improvements to Wakefield Park raceway.
The facility's management started the petition last week following release of a council report recommending refusal of the DA. Councillors will consider the report and make a decision at a June 22 extraordinary meeting.
The application seeks to demolish the existing pit lane building and construct a new one with space for 14 garages, corporate functions, commentary boxes, office administration and more. But it also asks to change the range of offerings including off-road experience area, general purpose markets and use of part of the site for short-term camping during events. The DA applies for continued use for motor sport activities under the terms of a noise prevention notice issued in January, 2020.
However planners have recommended refusal on eight grounds, including social, amenity and noise impacts in the RU1 primary production zone, some 10km southeast of Goulburn on the Braidwood Road.
Their report stated that the raceway was operating "at a noise level much higher than that originally approved" (in 1993) and that operators had not addressed the cumulative impact. Nor had the applicant addressed noise at all residential noise receivers, according to EPA methodology.
"It cannot be accepted that the proposal is for ongoing use of the motor sport activity as it is evident that there has been a deviation from the extent of site operations since the facility commenced operations," the report stated.
The DA attracted 39 public submissions, including 19 in support and 20 objecting.
Mayor Bob Kirk has already flagged a compromise motion at Tuesday's meeting that would "achieve a fair outcome for Wakefield Park and the community." It would give the former more time to address noise and other issues and impose a timeframe before any approval could be granted. It would also allow the facility to keep operating.
It has not stopped a petition securing more than 6277 supporting signatures as of 2pm Tuesday. It calls on councillors to approve the DA and cites the raceway's $16.95 million economic injection into the Goulburn economy, 82 fulltime equivalent jobs generated over the years and support for community organisations.
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Wakefield Park operations manager Dean Chapman said he started the petition after receiving phone calls and emails from people wanting to support the application.
"It was a quick, easy way of supporting us without necessarily writing a letter. It's great to see that support in numbers and what it means to NSW and Australia," he said.
"We've had phone calls from as far away as Perth."
Mr Chapman acknowledged that many signing the petition would not have read the 366-page report, which included public submissions and noise studies, to go to Tuesday's meeting.
He said while he understood several planning department concerns, he was surprised by several comments.
"As long as councillors are well read and understand what Wakefield Park has done around noise and invested in, I'm hoping for a favourable result for everyone," he said.
He pointed to 64 forgone race days per year when the noise prevention notice was issued and their replacement with quieter events. Mr Chapman said he wasn't upset about this as Wakefield had changed its business model to offer more community based events. It also aims to draw more driver training for people of all abilities and high-end car manufacturers to test their vehicles.
In addition, operators had employed fulltime staff to manage noise, invested in cameras and three noise meters to identify offending vehicles. They had also introduced noise management training for employees.
But several submitters questioned the methodology and independence of Wakefield's noise data. One said it should be measured by "noise exceeding resident background" rather than that exceeding the EPA limit. If approved, operations would be 430 per cent noisier than Winton Park, Eastern Creek and Mount Panorama circuits, the submission stated.
Members of a community consultative committee also claimed the raceway had not been transparent about the data. In addition, council planners said noise had not been measured at some of the closest residences, including one that received a "financial benefit" from the facility's presence.
Planners also stated that the limits in the prevention notice were only intended as an interim measure, not the permanent regime that Wakefield had proposed in the DA.
Mr Chapman rejects many of these contentions, saying their noise expert was a leader in his field and results were peer reviewed by the council's consultant.
"We believe we presented a robust noise management framework," he said.
"...We also disagree that we have exceeded the 1993 noise limits. It rules that we cannot exceed 95 decibels at 30 metres and we are currently enforcing that. It also allowed operation 365 days a year but we saw we needed to modify and change that and we did."
Moreover, recreational events now started at 9.30am instead of 9am in response to concerns.
"There are a multitude of things we've done to ensure that people have a day that Wakefield Park is not operating," Mr Chapman said.
He told The Post that if the noise prevention notice was revoked, as planners recommended, all work done over the past two and a half years would be irrelevant.
"It would be a step in the wrong direction," he said.
Asked what management would do if the application were refused, Mr Chapman said they would reassess and "act accordingly."
"We need a facility that's suitable for everyone. It's currently out of date and that's not where we want to be now or into the future," he said.
Tuesday's meeting starts at 6pm, is open to the public and will be live-streamed on the council's website.
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