For many years, litigants from 9 Talus Street, Naremburn have been battling Willoughby Council to reopen the Talus Street Reserve for Public Recreation.
The reserve is Crown Land that had been dedicated for Public Recreation but in recent years Council had leased the Reserve and it has been used as a privately run tennis facility.
In the latest Orders handed down by the Equity Division of the Supreme Court of NSW, Willoughby Council has been directed to “take all practical steps to cause the Reserve to be and remain available for public recreation, including to ensure that access to tennis courts on the Reserve is open to all members of the public and is not dependent on membership of any club”
Is that the end of this matter. Can we proceed to heal the rift between the local residents and Council? The decision that Willoughby Council now faces is how does it interpret and meet the order.
The orders also anticipate that the tennis courts might remain within the Reserve. However, it is unclear what ‘opens to all members of the public‘ means. For instance, not all members of the public might have the where-with-all to pay to use the courts. So will access to the courts be free? The orders also anticipate that the courts may be leased by directing that “any net profit derived by the Talus Trustee in leasing or licencing the Reserve is applied to the reserved purpose of public recreation of the Reserve“. Does all the area have to be made available to the public? Can all or some of the courts still be leased to a private organisation? Is a ‘time-sharing’ approach applicable? Time will tell!
There may be wider implications of the court decision. How many other portions of Crown Land reserved for public recreation within NSW (and Willoughby) have been alienated to private interests? There are caravan parks, golf courses and probably a plethora of other private occupations on Crown Land. Will it take local residents near these facilities to take legal action to unearth the facts or will Willoughby Council proactively review their Crown Reserves and take the appropriate action?
That is good Terry. Did you mean heal or heel? You could have given names to other parts of the anatomy such as Reilly Tobin and Norton. The difference with other trust lands EG Northbridge Golf Club is that the whole course is open to non members players and walkers. Only the Club House requires a ‘sign in’ . There are public meetings there all the time. I am going to one tonight and NPA meets there. No charge. The problem with Talus was exclusivity and sub leases at huge rentals not passed on to Council. It won’t be hard to distinguish uses although some will claim it is.
There is much that can be said in response to the article regarding the “victory” over Willoughby Council and other parties relative to the Talus Reserve. However, in the interest of brevity and priority of issues, two observations can be made. Firstly, Northern Suburbs Tennis Association and Love’nDeuce have created a tennis facility which is regarded as one of the best in NSW. This has been done without one dollar of cost to the council (ie ratepayers) as the NSTA and Love’nDeuce have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars building, upgrading and maintaining the facility during their tenancy.
If they had not done so, the facility would not be what it is today and the cost of maintaining it would have been borne by the ratepayers, or the facility would have fallen into disrepair. Secondly, neither NSTA nor Love’nDeuce are a “club” and do not have “members”. The courts have always been open to all members of the public in the same manner as other local sporting facilities by way of making a booking and meeting the entrance fee.
The ratepayers and community can indeed be grateful to the NSTA and Love’nDeuce for having created and financed a model facility.
Tony Reynolds, Greenwich in NST