The Bendigo Golf Club is “considering all its options” ahead of a board meeting this week which will determine its course of action after its bid for a multi-million dollar redevelopment was effectively shot-down by a council decision last week.
Club president Andrew Johnston said everything was on the table ahead of Thursday’s meeting.
The club plans to sell the former Eaglehawk golf course to developers and use the money to transform its Epsom-based course into a golf tourism destination. The land is currently zoned as farming and missed out on being rezoned into the urban growth boundary set at last Wednesday’s council meeting.
The club sought to have the Eaglehawk land included within the existing boundary – a decision which would have added millions of dollars to its value.
Mr Johnston said he was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
“It’s not an individual who will benefit from [the proposed redevelopment] – it’s for the good of golf and the good of the city,” he said.
“We’ve got enormous interest in the site from several parties but we’ve had no desire to consider that up until now as we believed that people would see the big picture plan for the city.”
While council and the golf club are at odds over the decision not to include the Eaglehawk land in the Greater Bendigo Planning Scheme, both parties agree that the land will eventually be developed.
Although councillors agreed last week there was currently enough land supply within the existing urban growth boundary for the next 15 years, they identified the land as part of the “next big growth front” for the city.
Greater Bendigo City Council identified 600 hectares of land north-west of Maiden Gully – which includes the Balgownie Winery, Eaglehawk Golf Course, and the land around the proposed railway station north-west of Maiden Gully – as an area which would accommodate much of the city’s post-2024 growth.
But Bendigo Golf Club general manager Steven Oliver said last week that the club may not be able to continue servicing debts incurred by acquiring the land when they merged with the Eaglehawk Gold Club in 2013.
“Make no mistake – that land will be at some point in time be residential land,” Mr Oliver said.
“But we can only afford to carry the debt for so long, we’ve carried it for two years now at some point in time we are going to have to sell this land.
“So the opportunity for the City of Greater Bendigo exists that – without spending a single dollar of tax payer money – the money raised from that sale can go towards a facility that is going to create tourism and jobs and it is as simple as putting rezoning the Eaglehawk land, which is already less than 100 metres into the urban growth boundary,"Bendigo Golf Club general manager Steven Oliver
“It is that simple.”
Related: Council endorses ‘compact city’
But while council chose to ignore that option for now, mayor Rod Fyffe did leave the door ajar to an internal review of that decision.
“It is possible the 600ha of land near Maiden Gully might be needed sooner than around 2030,” Cr Fyffe said.
“All the information we have now tells us that we have enough land supply for the next 15 years however the council is not inflexible on this and acknowledges that situations can change and that land might be needed sooner than we think.
With this in mind, the council will conduct annual land supply surveys that will be made publicly available.”
The mayor said council’s residential plan was aimed at preventing Bendigo from falling “victim to the urban sprawl” that is impacting on the lives of people living on the outskirts of Melbourne.
“The concept of the ‘compact city’ has been strongly endorsed by an independent panel and it gives our public transport plan more strength,” he told the Bendigo Advertiser before the council vote.