Hanging Rock Cricket Club may be forced to move from its long-held home at Hanging Rock Reserve if a draft masterplan released by the state government is implemented.
Under the plan, released last week and now open for community consultation, the cricket, petanque and tennis clubs will be moved offsite to enable the relocation of picnicking and parking areas, however, Hanging Rock racetrack will remain in use.
Hanging Rock Cricket Club vice-president Stephen Mitchell said the club was devastated by the proposal.
“The Draft Hanging Rock Masterplan wipes Hanging Rock Cricket Club out of existence in favour of vastly increased carparking space, more tourist dollars and, of course, concerts where up to 15,000 people can attend,” Mr Mitchell said.
“None of these seem to conflict with environmental or cultural values of the precinct … but the community and kids playing sport does!
“Horse racing gets a free pass, with guaranteed support for racing relying on its historical relationship with Hanging Rock.
“Cricket is currently contained within the racing club’s footprint and has just as long a history at Hanging Rock, with accounts of games played there as early as the mid-1800s.”
The masterplan states its aim is to help protect the location’s natural and cultural assets, and provide engaging visitor experiences to support a sustainable tourism industry and the broader regional economy.
It recommends significant changes to the built environment of the reserve including moving the entry from South Rock Road to Straws Lane where a new eastern arrival precinct will be developed to include a relocated cafe and discovery centre and construction of a permanent car park.
Mr Mitchell said the club and the community were supportive of environmental and Indigenous cultural heritage priorities being elevated but believed it was clear that tourism was the highest priority.
“We think this is far more heading towards maximising tourism dollars at the exclusion of the community that has been involved in the custodianship of Hanging Rock for years and years and years,” he said.
Hanging Rock Action Group spokesperson Luke Spielvogel said HRAG also held some concerns about the draft plan.
“The concerns at first look is the East Paddock (where much of the new built environment will be constructed) is still owned by Macedon Ranges Shire Council, after years of back and forth with the state government, so it seems we might be putting the cart before the horse,” Mr Spielvogel said.
“It may seem more palatable than a conference centre (as was proposed by the local council in 2013 before community backlash halted the plan) but at the end of the day we’re talking about the built environment in the East Paddock, proposed with consultation only once the plans have already been made.”
HOW TO HAVE A SAY
Consultation is open until Monday, February 28. To view the draft plan visit: engage.vic.gov.au/hanging-rock-master-plan
People can participate online by filling in a survey, by providing a submission, or attending a community information sessions scheduled for the following –
Pop-up stall at Hanging Rock Race Day on January 26 from 11am-1pm.
Pop-up stall Woodend Farmers Market on February 5 from 9am-1pm.
Drop-in information sessions at the Woodend Library Meeting Hall on Wednesday February 9 from 3pm-5.30pm and Tuesday February 15 from 7pm-8.30pm.
The final Hanging Rock Precinct Master Plan is expected to be completed in June.