Legal action flagged as council shuts down raceway

THE managers of a private speedway track at Southgate are considering legal action after receiving a letter ordering them to cease operations.

Oz Sedan Association president Denis Nall said they received a letter from Clarence Valley Council in October telling them they would need a development approval to continue operating.

Since 2006, the Rebel Raceway has been operating on the property of Rod Blake, at Southgate.

Council environment, planning and community director Des Schroder, said a speedway could not be approved to operate in the area.

He said when the NSW Government gazetted the new local environmental plan in 2011, there were changes to what was a permissible activity in an area zoned RU2 Rural Landscape.

He said the operators were advised in 2010 that what was allowed in a RU2 Landscape zone would change and if they wanted the speedway to continue, they would need to lodge a development application before the new LEP was introduced.

"No development application was lodged and because what is permitted in the zones has changed, even if one is lodged now, it cannot be approved," he said.

But Mr Nall, a retired highway patrol sergeant, disagrees.

His understanding of the regulations is that as long as the speedway does not conduct racing, defined as timed competition or races between drivers, the club does not need to lodge a DA.

"We met with the council staff and they told us what the requirements were for a DA," he said.

"When we saw what the hoops were we had to jump through, we decided to stick with what we were doing and fly under the radar."

Mr Nall said the main users of the track were like the group of speedway veterans from Wollongong, who brought their vintage sprintcars to drive on the track a couple of times a year.

"They come here and stay in our motels, eat our food, spend their money in the economy," he said.

He said the track was also popular with speedway drivers looking for somewhere to test their cars and for young drivers to learn how to drive the cars.

Mr Nall said there had never been any issues with neighbours about the track.

"We've asked our neighbours if they have any problems and they've always said no," Mr Nall said.



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