Curfew ‘discriminates’, says group aiming to save Northcote Public Golf Course

Darebin City Council should take the advice of its own officers and ensure Northcote Public Golf Course remains open during daylight hours seven days per week, says a group formed to save the course from closure.

A majority of Councillors recently rejected the Officer’s findings and recommended instead to investigate closing the course at 3pm every day.

But Northcote Community and Golf HUB, a group campaigning to transform the site to include not only golf but other community activities, says a curfew would be disastrous for the facility.

“Shutting the course at 3pm would halve its revenue,” said spokesperson Julie Williams, “and there’s not a business in the world that could survive under those circumstances.”

Ms Williams, a Thornbury resident, said the proposed 3pm ‘curfew’ would discriminate against certain segments of the community.

“A lot of tradespeople and office and shift workers would lose all access to the course if it closes at 3pm, as would school children,” she said.

“And there is $200,000 available from the state government for an expert redesign of the course to allow for part of the site to be returned to parkland. But that money should only be available if the course is open daylight hours seven days per week. The Council Officers’ report recommended sharing the space, not to split the times of the day for golf and non-golf activities. With the extra space, almost a quarter of the whole area allocated to new parkland, golf and open space can be enjoyed all day by the whole community.”

There has been tension over use of the Northcote Public Golf Course since it was made available for recreation other than golf during the 2020 lockdowns. Golf was not allowed during that time and after residents repeatedly cut holes in the perimeter fence to access the course it was decided to open up the area while golf was not permitted.

However, a group was soon formed and began campaigning for golf to be permanently removed from the site.

“What we are proposing through the Northcote Community and Golf HUB is to add something to the community that will benefit the whole community, golfers included,” she said.

“Those who see themselves as our opponents only seem to be proposing the removal of a community facility, one which is frankly vital for the mental and physical wellbeing of many local residents.

“Golf is a legitimate recreation in the same way as football and cricket and netball are but with the added advantage that it can – when run well – contribute financially back to the community to support other projects.”

Williams says her group wholeheartedly supports returning 5.72 hectares of golf course land for broader community use and welcomes the inclusion of walking tracks and greater protection of local flora and fauna and the Merri Creek.

“The money being made available by the state government would ensure the best possible outcome for golfers and non-golfers alike. We encourage the Council Officers to use that money to source the expertise to identify the best nine holes and best 5.72 hectares of parkland on the site,” she said.