Galston Residents ask Council to Save 3 Johnson rd as Parkland

When bad decisions are made by government, good people lose their weekends and evenings having to fight it. For weeks, months or years. It was this realisation that led to my interest in local government.

Since the June 2023 Council decision to progress rezoning of No. 1 and No. 3 Johnson Rd Galston and well before the consultation process had started, Councillors have received an outpouring of protest from Galston residents to save their precious but unofficial parkland at No. 3 Johnson Rd, known as the Old Pony Club.

So, when I was asked to table a petition of 832 signatures to stop the rezoning of No. 3 at our next meeting, I was happy to oblige. I believe our role as a Councillor is to listen and act. After the meeting I suggested catching up with some residents on site to find out more about their needs and use of the site. It was incredible to meet with not just a few as I’d expected, but over 120 residents.

Having based my original decision on information of this land being unused and Galston residents needing space to grow their businesses; it was clear to me from the petition and emails alone, Council needed to stop and reassess.

So, after working with council staff, I put forward a workable motion to address resident’s requests and offered Council the opportunity to say we hear you and we will investigate your proposal.

This motion sought to pause the current planning proposal to rezone No. 1 and No. 3 (with a view to developing with industrial units); before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars going down a path clearly unpalatable to residents.

It asked Council to conduct a feasibility analysis of developing only No.1 with protection of No. 3 as community parkland and conservation of the forest. This would provide councillors with all the information needed to make an informed decision, when the time came.

It was reasonable and pragmatic, just as Galston residents have been. Now that Councillors were aware of the community’s love for this greenspace, I believe it should have received enough support to pass.

Disappointingly, it didn’t – despite there being no reason why it couldn’t have progressed. We know due process would still be followed, it has to. This motion just added an extra step to ensure good governance, accountability and fair democratic process.

Despite the commitment to consultation, the amended motion on 9th August does nothing to change the original Council decision to work towards developing both parcels of land with industrial units.

Residents of Galston are now left to continue the fight for their valued, beautiful parkland. I believe our community deserves better.