An appeal over council consent conditions for the Wakefield Park raceway is headed to conciliation in November.
Owners of the motor racing circuit have changed the grounds for the appeal since Goulburn Mulwaree Council approved the development application in July.
Soon after, Benalla Motor Group lodged documents with the NSW Land and Environment Court. They argued that the council had taken longer than the statutory 42 days to make the decision and this was in effect a 'deemed refusal.'
But with conditional approval granted on July 13, Wakefield Park has now challenged the consent conditions.
Operations manager Dean Chapman contends they are 'unworkable' and will make the raceway 'unviable.'
The facility wants to not just build new infrastructure but incorporate an event management plan. That plan enshrines a noise management regime with which some neighbours disagree. The number of operating days is also a source of contention.
A conciliation conference between the council, Benalla Auto Group and the court's chief judge will be held on November 25. The hearing is scheduled for March 8,9 and 10 at Goulburn Courthouse and includes a raceway inspection.
Council general manager Warwick Bennett said both parties would tender expert noise evidence.
Environment and planning director Scott Martin told The Post that the council had wanted the matter to go direct to a hearing because "five to six years of negotiations with Wakefield Park had not struck a balance."
Mr Chapman says he wants to avoid that course.
"Our every action is an attempt to avoid legal action because no one wins and it's money that neither Wakefield Park nor the council needs to spend," he said.
"We are very confident that conciliation will find a solution."
Wakefield Park representatives have had little communication with the council since the July decision. Mr Chapman said numerous conversations had already occurred and conciliation was an opportunity to clarify what each party wanted.
"What the council proposed on July 13 was unworkable. Wakefield Park has no future if that applies," he said.
"We want to be there (agreeing) but taking it to court is an opportunity to demonstrate that it is not a long-term solution."
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The council approved the DA subject to conditions, including 30 days of operations at up to 95 decibels (averaged over 15 minutes) and 100 days at up to 85 dBa. The raceway had three years to adjust to this regime. The rest of the year facilitated 'quieter' events such as car launches and learn to drive days. It allowed for 363 days' operation.
But Wakefield Park wants 75 days of noise up to 95dBA to make their circuit "viable."
Mr Chapman said while some residents opposed this, there were supporters who had "copped a backlash."
"They deserve a thank you from Wakefield Park and the community because they understand how we've adapted in the past three years," he said.
But neighbours who voiced objections said they did not want to shut down the facility and had only ever tried to reach compromise with Wakefield Park over noise.
Meantime, Mr Chapman hoped the circuit could re-open towards the end of October, in line with government guidelines once the state's population had reached 80 per cent double vaccination.
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