Club president Eddy Foster says members feel they have been let down by the BCC after it failed to deliver on it’s commitment to help relocate the club to a nearby block of land owned by FKP.
“In 2010 Campbell Newman when he was Lord Mayor came to a big event we had here and told us the Mt Gravatt Pony Club was going to stay open,” he said.
“Newman said he believed the club was a really good thing and the council would fully support us in moving to the new premises.
“They’ve led us to believe that we will always have grounds and it’s now coming up to October and we don’t have anything for next year at all,” Mr Foster said.
Before development started the pony club was the biggest on Brisbane’s southside attracting Olympians, World Cup champions and budding equestrians from interstate.
A local chicken farmer originally owned the land before it was sold to developers who then sold it onto the current owners, FKP.
Mr Foster says the developers have been helpful but the BCC hasn’t actively cooperated.
“We’ve known this was coming for about 10 years, the developers have been good in keeping us informed, the council have been very slow to react,” he said.
“The developers were kind enough to say they had some other land down the road on the other side of the freeway that they would let us use,” Mr Foster said.
Council need ‘to see the bureaucracy’
The state government’s Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has classified FKP’s block of land on the other side of the gateway a category five in environmental sensitivity.
Now the pony club can no longer be moved to the alternative site that Campbell Newman publicly promised the members two years ago.
“…Councillor Adrian Schrinner has advised that for a variety of reasons, council is no longer in a position to proceed with the acquisition. This decision was announced after the recent elections, however just prior we were informed that negotiations were now approaching a final stage, and all looked good.
The reason given is the impact of DERM offset planting that was registered over the lands as part of the development approvals. We find it curious, as FKP had informed council of this in February 2010, so council made the Civic Cabinet decision, with full knowledge…”
Mr Foster says he believes DERM’s environmental ruling should be reassessed and feels it is another case of the community losing out due to political bureaucracy.
“I would like council to see the bureaucracy and hypocrisy and say yes this land would be good for outdoor community groups,” Mr Foster said.
However, Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Graham Quirk says the council has not given up on the pony club.
“We are still negotiating with the new state government to try and achieve a common sense outcome,” Mr Quirk said.
“We want to see, at a council level, the pony club retained and we’re doing all that we can to try and clear up those bureaucratic processes to achieve that outcome,” he said.
However, Mr Foster says the BCC and the state government have not visited the pony club site or the block of land DERM restricted.
Waiting game for ‘devastated’ members
According to a letter from the Premier’s office to the pony club, the state government declined to meet with club members and developers to discuss the situation and instead referred the matter on to Mr Ian Walker the Member for Mansfield.
Club secretary Maree Forrest says the loss of the club will have a huge affect on the immediate community.
“We would have to disperse and look at other clubs further distances away, which is like breaking up a family,” she said.
“Members here have been quite close and have developed a community within themselves and they’re distinct from other local clubs.
“We’re just devastated,” she said.
Once the developers decide to build on the remaining land, which the pony club are still utilising, it will have a month to move on. View one of FKP’s letter to the pony club.
“Mia Manson: Come on members let’s show the Mayor/Councillors we’re not happy!”
“Mia Manson: Get busy and write to them! We want our grounds! the more complaints maybe they might give us something back!”
“Katrina Scottwrites: Posted on 30 Aug 09 at 03:25pm I feel for the Mt Gravatt pony Club. But it is not appropriate for the conservation land to be ‘co-used’. If land that has been bought with the Bushland Preservation Levy, for the protection and enhancement of the natural environment, it should not then be used for an intensive sport like cross country equestrian course. Although I love horses and trail riding, being a hard hoofed animal they cause loss of ground-cover and can lead to erosion. This is not an activity that we want to occur within metres of a creek.”
Mr Foster said there were Camphaloral trees, weeds and rubbish on the DERM classified land.
Mr Foster says the pony club could face closure as early as Christmas if the BCC does not find a new site by the time developers start work.
Mr Walker the Member for Mansfield was contacted but did not respond.
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