PLANS to redevelop the old Sheep and Cattle Drome on the Limekilns Road have turned into one of our city’s longest-running sagas.
It was way back in 2002 that the former Bathurst City Council gave the green light to plans to redevelop the 172-hectare site that included a golf course, conference centre, crematorium, cricket ground, equestrian centre and almost 400 dwellings for short-term tourist and visitor accommodation.
It was certainly an ambitious proposal, but one that never really got off the ground.
Enough work was started to retain the DA in its approved form – including preliminary work on the golf course – but it was clear soon enough that the project was never going to be completed.
Last year a proposed amendment to the approved DA was lodged with Bathurst Regional Council, seeking to change approvals for the tourist and visitor dwellings to a caravan park.
Council’s planning staff acknowledged there were many similarities between the intention and scope of the original development application and proposed amendments but, in the end, convinced councillors that there were too many differences for the amendments to be allowed.
Instead, council found that the owners would have to go back to the drawing board and produced a new concept development plan – and that’s where we are now.
New plans for what is now known as the Heritage Park Bathurst Cultural Precinct – lodged by new managers the Wiradyuri Traditional Owners Central West Aboriginal Corporation – propose finally completing the golf course while also adding a Wiradyuri Cultural and Educational Centre.
The plans also include a caravan park of almost 400 sites – to be developed over three stages – that would certainly fill what is a real gap in the local tourism sector.
As wonderful as it all sounds, though, it is far too early for us to get excited about what might be.
As recent history shows, there is a yawning gap between having a concept plan approved and seeing real action on the ground.
The greatest hurdle, as always, will be finding the money to make this all a reality, followed by finding the regular customers to keep it all operating.
But nothing is achieved without big plans and big dreams – and that’s what we’re seeing here. Sometimes, however, dreams do come true.