Thousands divided by racetrack plot

A layout of the proposed motorsports facility. 182769_01

By Rowan Forster

  The proposed sale of 335 McGregor Road to develop a world-class motorsports facility has garnered more than 4000 public submissions – one of the largest responses ever received by Cardinia Shire.

A staggering 4236 people expressed their full support for the sale, while online petitions launched by the Kooweerup Motorcycle Club amassed 1424 objections to the complex.

According to the club, a hand-written petition of 1200 signatures was not listed on the public submissions – an oversight council apologised for.

Those for and against the sale attended a Cardinia Shire special meeting on Monday night to address councillors, providing a diverse range of arguments and opinions.

Jo Spencer, in her address, accused CEO Garry McQullin of holding a back-door agenda to swindle the Kooweerup club.

“It’s a personal feeling, that there was a back-of-house agenda delaying securing a permanent home for our club,” she said. Mr

“It was more the dealings with Mr McQuillan when I was club treasurer a few years ago, I had a distinct feeling we were being strung along for that time.

“It saddens me on a personal note to hear our older club members say that they’re tired and have no fight left.”

In contrast, Pakenham’s Tony O’Hara raised a series of issues with potential noise pollution.

“It may disrupt sleep, reduce concentration make people irritable and lead to depression,” he said.

“I got an email reply from councillors back in 2011 which read, ‘council will continue to own the land, council has no interest in creating a motor track to replace Sandown.’

“People have to bend over backwards at Sandown because of the noise pollution.

“There are two other grade-2 tracks, one is approximately 5-6 kilometres from residential property, the other is 3-4 kilometres – this one is 1.2 kilometres.”

Despite securing more than 4000 submissions of support, nobody spoke in favour of the sale and proposed motorsports facility. Industry heavyweights including Motorcycling Victoria CEO Robert Mestrom and representatives from Melbourne Auto Club were earmarked to speak – but they did not show up.

Motorcycle club member Alison Wright expressed fears that young riders may take to the streets if their “home” is snatched away from them.

“The last thing we want is kids riding through parks and in streets illegally,” she said.

“This is a family orientated group that makes sure there’s safety and supervision and that’s really important to us.”

As it stands, the Kooweerup Motorcycle Club claim the lot of land they have been allocated at the new motorsports facility is “unsuitable”, hampered by power lines and underground infrastructure.

Council have promised to try secure them another site, but it would require rezoning from Victoria’s Planning Minister – a process that can take years.

The submissions will be considered at a second special council meeting on 23 July.