03/04/2007 - 22:00

Belmont race tight

03/04/2007 - 22:00

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The ongoing dispute between the Town of Victoria Park and the City of Belmont over the fate of Belmont Park racecourse will come to a head next week at what is expected to be a fiery round of public hearings.

The ongoing dispute between the Town of Victoria Park and the City of Belmont over the fate of Belmont Park racecourse will come to a head next week at what is expected to be a fiery round of public hearings.

The hearings are part of a state government inquiry into a proposal put forward by Belmont in late January, containing rationale to expand its district boundary to encompass the unpopulated Belmont Park peninsula, currently under the jurisdiction of Victoria Park.

At stake is an estimated $5 million in annual rates revenue, to be collected when the peninsula becomes home to a thriving community of more than 8,000 people within the next decade.

Belmont maintains that its connection with Perth’s horse racing industry, the geographical location of the racecourse and the fact it is known as Belmont Park are significant factors to warrant the change.

Mayor Glenys Godfrey said this week the proposed change was a sensible piece of “housekeeping” that should have been attended to years ago.

“This was highlighted in the Local Government Advisory Board’s structural reform report, which led us to make this decision to move forward with it,” Ms Godfrey told WA Business News.

“Belmont Park has a physical connection with the City of Belmont, and the racing industry also has a historical relationship with the city.”

The board’s report into structural and electoral reform of local government, released in 2006, found potential for a division of the Town of Victoria Park between the cities of South Perth and Belmont, among other suggestions.

Victoria Park CEO John Bonker said the city would be urging selected members of the community to make testimonials in support of Belmont Park staying with the town’s boundary.

The town will have to push hard, as the owner of Belmont Park – Perth Racing – has already publicly expressed its support of Belmont’s proposal.

Mr Bonker said that, judging from past inquiries, four particular criteria would be taken into account by the board: the level of community interest in the proposal; transport connections; both councils’ ability to service their respective communities; and their economic viability.

“While we don’t provide too many services to the turf club, over the past 10 years we’ve had significant planning input into the peninsula, particularly in handling the $1 billion Mirvac development,” Mr Bonker said.

“The future development of the greater peninsula is a far bigger issue and one for which Belmont has provided no input. The impact to us will not be felt so much today, but in the future.”

If Local Government Minister Ljiljanna Ravlich approves the City of Belmont proposal, Victoria Park estimates it will lose rates revenue in the order of 25 per cent, or between $4 million and $5 million, when Belmont Park is populated.

Based on current rates payable on the existing property, however, Belmont estimates Victoria Park’s revenue will fall by just 0.53 per cent if the amendment is approved.

Public hearings concerning Belmont’s proposal will be held at the Rivervale Community Centre Hall on April 10 and the Leisurelife Centre in East Victoria Park on April 12.

Written submissions will be accepted by the advisory board up until 4pm on April 24.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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