Hanging Rock Cricket Club and other sporting groups at Hanging Rock Reserve are gaining support to preserve their history at the grounds in a fight to change a proposal to demolish their facilities.

The draft Hanging Rock Master Plan proposes that local sporting activities be relocated from the Hanging Rock precinct in order to safeguard Aboriginal cultural heritage and environmental assets and make best use of the space.

Under the draft plan, the reserve’s cricket, tennis and petanque clubs would be required to relocate while the East Paddock would be developed accommodate concerts and events at Hanging Rock.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, DELWP, acknowledged sporting clubs that use the reserve’s land would be affected by the draft Hanging Rock Master Plan.

“We know this draft plan proposes a big change for the affected sporting clubs: Woodend/Hanging Rock Pétanque Club, the Hanging Rock Cricket Club and the Hanging Rock Tennis Club. That is why, should the plan proceed, the transition to other nearby locations for these clubs will be carried out over five years,” a DELWP spokesperson said.

“Local sporting clubs have been invited to work with Macedon Ranges Shire Council, with support from State Government, to plan for possible relocation.

“Horse racing and other community events are planned to continue in a structured way to support the local visitor economy, while ensuring protection of the values that make Hanging Rock such an important place.”

Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party Member for Northern Victoria Tania Maxwell recently showed support for the sporting clubs, imploring for Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio to allow them to keeping playing at the oval.

She said there was no justification for stopping the cricket club from fielding teams across all age groups while allowing concerts, car rallies and fairs on the reserve and horse racing to continue around its perimeter.

“The DELWP’s draft master plan for the Hanging Rock precinct flies in the face of the aspirations and traditions of the people of Newham, Hesket, Carlsruhe, Cobaw and Rochford,” she said.

“Local people feel devastated by the prospect that the master plan, as written, would remove cricket without offering a new home for the local kids, young people and adults who love it.

“Compared with horse racing, concerts and similar big visitor events, local cricket must be the activity with the lightest touch on the precinct’s environment. But bureaucrats haven’t seemed to grasp the cricket club’s common-sense claim on this vital point.”

After meeting with Hanging Rock Cricket Club president Peter Walsh and vice president Stephen Mitchell, Member for Northern Victoria Wendy Lovell raised concerns about the fate of the club in State Parliament on April 5.

Ms Lovell put forward an adjournment matter to Ms D’Ambrosio to ‘immediately intervene’ and ensure the Hanging Rock Master Plan protected the oval and East Paddock from future development.

She labelled the development as ‘inappropriate’ and said a better plan was required to account for all occupants at the reserve.  “The cricket club is devastated that the Andrews Labor government is evicting them from their home. I saw this anguish for myself when I met with members of the cricket club,” she said.

“Many locals believe a better plan would be to upgrade facilities at the racetrack, which are nestled beneath the view from the rock, to include the visitor centre and additional car parks. A temporary stage can be established as needed for the occasional concert that is held at the rock.

“This would avoid inappropriate development in the East Paddock and any need for decommissioning the cricket oval. It would also preserve the rural view from the rock and allow community sport to continue as it has for over 100 years.”

DELWP is currently reviewing submissions and feedback received from community consultation on the draft Hanging Rock Precinct Master Plan to finalise the master plan by June 30. 

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