14 May 2021

Burns Club car park plans for oval throw Tuggeranong Little Athletics

| Ian Bushnell
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Sign on oval edge

The development application notice for the proposed car park on Kambah Ovals opposite the Burns Club. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The Burns Club and Tuggeranong Little Athletics are at loggerheads over plans for a public car park that will take out the field events area on Kambah Ovals.

A development application has been lodged for the construction of a 98-space car park along a strip of the public playing fields opposite the Burns Club on Kett Street, which also wants to redevelop an adjacent car park on club land to the south as part of diversification plans to reduce its reliance on poker machine income, as encouraged by the ACT Government.

The two clubs have been negotiating over the plans since 2019, with the Burns Club offering to relocate three shot put rings at its own expense, but Tuggeranong Little Athletics says the triple and long jump sand pit will also be affected, as well as trees used for shade.

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Burns Club CEO John Weir says the re-development plans hinge on building a new car park, which will also ease parking issues for all oval users and club patrons, particularly on weekends.

“We can’t do anything without additional car parking,” he said. “A 100-year-old business is fighting for survival because Little Athletics won’t move three shot put rings.”

But Tuggeranong Tornadoes Little Athletics Association president Barb Miels-Barrett says most of what the Burns Club had offered would not comply with safety standards or world athletics standards.

She also rejected the notion that parking was a problem at the oval.

The DA says the development of the car park, including lighting and security cameras, will include an upgrade to Little Athletics facilities but does not mention what they are.

Mr Weir insists it is only the shot put rings at issue and that an existing sandpit could be extended with little or no interference with Little Athletics facilities.

Aerial of club and oval

An aerial shot of the Burns Club and Kambah Ovals showing where the proposed car park would be built and the land the club wants to redevelop. Image: Purdon Planning.

But the club is prepared to do what it takes to meet the needs of Tuggeranong Little Athletics.

“We have no desire to take away any assets or funding or penalise Tuggeranong Little Athletics,” Mr Weir said. “We’re a community-based club.”

Ms Miels-Barrett said her association provided the Burns Club with specifications for what was required last December, but the next thing they knew, a DA had been lodged.

“Our aim is not to stop progress, but we need to make sure we have a space and place for our kids that’s safe, complies with athletics standards, and people know about it,” she said.

“We just want to make sure that whatever happens, it is to the benefit of the children.”

Mr Weir said it was unclear what kind of redevelopment would be pursued for the car park site, which currently allows a child care centre and would need a variation to the Territory Plan for other uses.

He said the Burns Club did not want gaming machines to be its primary source of income and had greatly reduced its reliance on gambling, from a percentage in the high 70s to the low 60s.

“We’re trying to get that to below 50 per cent of income, but without diversification, we’re dead in the water,” Mr Weir said.

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Tuggeranong Little Athletics has been lobbying local MLAs, and Liberal Nicole Lawder took the matter up in the Assembly this week. She has called for the proposal to be rejected, saying it was an unfair attack on community sport in Tuggeranong.

“This space is an important community asset that has helped produce both Canberra and Australian-level athletes,” she said.

DA submissions close on 17 May.

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We go to the Burns club regularly. It is heavily patronised and parking is at a premium. By contrast I have never seen what is being described as a Little athletics area being used at all. In fact I didn’t even know it was there!

I think the Burns club is thinking of its future with this proposal, and the fact that it’s non-poker machine activities i.e. the Star buffet – are proving increasingly popular in this post Covid lockdown environment.

People in Kambah seem to be thinking rather insularly regarding this issue. People from all over Canberra come to the Burns club and we shouldn’t be pushed aside in favour of three shotput rings which never seemed to be used.

I’m amazed you’ve never seen the packed junior athletics. I’m guessing you’ve never been to the Burns Club on a Saturday morning or a Wednesday afternoon, if you’ve never seen the Athletics in action. Saturday’s at that oval was often full of various junior and senior sports from early morning till dusk and midweek evenings there’s many teams training under lights.

I heard the head of the Burns club on radio this morning magically inventing oval space for sports in his head.

There is just enough space for soccer games, soccer warm ups and little athletics at the moment. It’s often pre and post match when the ground is full. Athol from the Burns club seems to think you can easily run athletics butt up against other sports. This really is about having an adequate space to warm up and a safety issue (specially with little kids mixing with nearby senior sport).

Surely the empty community space west of the Burns club towards Drakeford Drive is a much better location than acquiring land from kids sports. It’s hard enough as it is to get sports and training ground access in Canberra as it is. Burns club are using the reduction in Poker machine issue as a ransom against space for kids sport.

This proposal is rubbish and and thank you Riot Act for bringing it to our attention. If the Burns Club wants to expand, they can do it on their own land. Turning ovals into car parks is not okay.

If you’re against this, lodge a representation here:
https://form.act.gov.au/smartforms/landing.htm?formCode=1251 Link to the plans is at the end of the article.

When I spoke with Bec Cody ahead of her election as an MLA a few years back, she assured me a Labor government would retain Kambah’s green spaces. Has this changed? Is the Barr government about to start ripping up Kambah?

This is actually *the most* important issue to me as a Kambah resident. Kambah has a unique character thanks to open space, old trees, the three playing fields and bike tracks. The Barr government would do best to understand this character, value it, and work to retain it. They may be misreading the room on this.

The playing fields are the heart of Kambah. If you want car parks, go to Kingston and wherever else there is mkre concrete and less open space.

The Burns Club can feel free to build another carpark on their own land, or build a two storey. I don’t care how much it costs them, it’s not our responsibility to help them expand. They have enough car parking for their busiest nights, let’s not pretend otherwise.

The Barr Labor government with Chris Steel should not approve this and I encourage everyone to lodge an objection today, 16 May.

When I lived in Kambah we lost multiple Public schools, Tennis Courts, Children’s playgrounds, Cricket Nets, Basketball courts etc etc. Hardly anyone of importance batted an eyelid.

Kambah has long been an easy target because not enough local residents kick up a stink or have the government or business connections to stop the changes.

So many of those community facilities I mentioned have been replaced by housing development. The government sold them off to enrich property developers not enrich Kambah residents livelihoods. Remove an inner south park bench and the community rightly reacts to save it. They usually win their case.

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