Greenwich Residents are Not Happy About Changes to Bob Campbell Oval

Lane Cove Council has published the Bob Campbell Oval (BCO) Masterplan which includes installing a new synthetic field.  The Greenwich Community Association (GCA) is not happy with this plan.

The GCA has resolved to oppose the development works at BCO because it means the end, of the only significant piece of level green open space in Greenwich for active and passive recreation, off-leash dog walking and a plethora of family-friendly activities better conducted on grass than a synthetic field.  As is the case at Blackman Park, dogs are not permitted on Synthetic Ovals.  At Blackman Park, there are two other ovals which are not synthetic and are available for use by families and dog walkers.

Lane Cove Council’s Plans

The community is now being asked to provide feedback on the Masterplan which includes the following:

  • New synthetic field to accommodate Soccer (90m x 50m) and Cricket
  • Existing Bushland
  • New fitness track approx. 400m in length
  • Enclosed off-leash dog areas
  • New amenities building
  • Approx. 50 space car park
  • Link to existing bush track
  • New native vegetation area
  • Existing aquaduct
  • New playground and fitness equipment
  • New BBQ picnic area
  • Existing vehicular access road and shared user access path
  • New shared user path (SUP)
  • New upgraded lighting for field
  • New Netball training court for off-peak times
  • Perimeter fence

Lane Cove Council has developed FAQ’s, and you can read them here.

Why Develop the Bob Campbell Masterplan?

If you read the Lane Cove Council’s explanatory notes, the masterplan was developed to meet the demand for organised sport.

“Council’s Open Space Plan identifies the need to increase the impact and use of open space assets through investment and innovation and by applying good design technique. To ensure that a holistic approach is taken to the site layout at Bob Campbell Oval, Council has drafted a Masterplan demonstrating a range of features which could be included on the site. The primary motivation for improvement works is to address the range of uses on the site, including the high demand from organised sport which is becoming increasingly difficult to satisfy with the grass field.”

This statement varies from the information provided by Lane Cove Council when they submitted an application for funding the works.  Lane Cove Council submitted a funding application based on the need to provide quality green open public spaces to support the development of the St Leonards Crows Nest Precinct.

The application stated:

“There is limited opportunity for new open space areas within the St Leonards and Crows Nest precinct to provide for the large number of new residents expected and no opportunity for additional flat land within the precinct for any new active sports area. The expansion and improved utilisation of the existing recreation open space is the priority. This will ensure that the new community has easy access to high-quality open space nearby for active recreation.

The upgrade to Bob Campbell Oval playing field, amenities and Shared User Path (SUP) connections will address the Premier’s Priority; “to increase proportion of homes in urban areas within 10 mins walk of quality green, open and public spaces by 10% by 2023”.

The local and broader regional community will benefit from the all-weather synthetic field built to modern specifications as it will allow for much greater use of the playing field at Bob Campbell Oval for a range of outdoor sports. More players, more teams and more sports will be able to use the ground for active recreation.

The planned upgrade to the amenities block will incorporate Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), baby change facilities and accessible bathrooms. This upgrade in combination with lighting upgrade and synthetic field will attract a broader range of participants. The local Greenwich Sports Club has a large number of junior players and a strong female participation in both juniors and seniors. In 2017, there were 290 junior members in the total membership of 430 football players.”

Why is the Greenwich Community Association Objecting to the Master Plan?

The GCA argues that BCO is a natural unstructured space that community members, sporting teams, dogs and wildlife have shared happily for years.

If the Lane Cove Council presses ahead with its plan for BCO, the Greenwich community will lose its only significant natural grassed open space.

The GCA understands that the grassed surface on the playing field at BCO needs upgrading for organised sport. But the requirements of sporting teams alone should not dictate what happens to BCO. The community is being asked to pay too high a price to meet the needs of those who use a large part of the reserve on weekends and evening training sessions, mainly in the winter months.

The solution for sporting teams should not be a huge swathe of synthetic material that will force wholesale change to the configuration of this beautiful public reserve.

Council has $3.6 million to spend on BCO, and this should go to improving the grassed playing field.

Council should not take away from the Greenwich community, dogs and wildlife its only large natural grassed open space.

Specifically, GCA’s concerns are as follows:

  • Bob Campbell Oval (BCO) is the only significant green open space in Greenwich. If synthetic, it has gone forever.
  • Under the proposal, dog walkers are crowded into small, shaded sidelines and an area amongst trees – a long way from the playground and car park.
  • The oval is presently used exclusively by organised sport and training for 30+ hrs pw (LCC number). Unstructured sport and recreation will be increasingly limited as organised activities ramp up. Families playing together with dogs will no longer be able to use the fully enclosed soccer pitch.  The application to NSW Planning specifically stated..” More players, more teams and more sports will be able to use the ground for active recreation.”
  • The oval has always hosted junior soccer and should continue to do so.  The GCA has spoken to parents and kids, and the overwhelming feedback is they would prefer grass to be synthetic.
  • Increased utilisation by adult soccer teams in recent years has contributed to surface level higher utilisation – at the expense of many other users, particularly dog walkers.


Environmental Concerns

Bob Campell Oval is located in the Gore Greek Reserve. The  BCO is zoned as riparian land – this has special environmental significance. A Riparian Zone is the area adjacent to a water course, in this case, Gore Creek. Lane Cove Council has stated they will be engaging an Environmental Scientist to ensure the riparian land is managed appropriately.

Mature trees are to be cut down for a relocated carpark and a new shared user path.  Lane Cove Council has said mature trees will be replanted.

GCA is also concerned with the leaching of microplastics into Gore Creek and the Harbour impacting the marine ecosystem and food chain.  Lane Cove Council commissioned a consultant to address environmental concerns.  Their report stated the following about leaching of microplastics.

“Council has researched the following design and management approaches to reduce (our emphasis) the probability of increased microplastics finding their way into the surrounding natural environment and waterways from a synthetic field.”

GCA argues that unless the Lane Cove Council can guarantee no microplastics runoff, the synthetic field should not go ahead.

Greenwich Games

The Greenwich Games are held every four years and involve a huge number of Greenwich community members from small kids to seniors.  The games utilise every inch of BCO.  There is a to be a 200mm kerb installed around the oval to retain an infill.  The Height and Kerb differentials would make the staging of the games near impossible.

Communal Use

The issue all comes down to the simple question, should BCO be a dedicated sporting field with ancillary communal use around the oval or a sports field with communal use when organised sport is not being played?  ITC reached out to the Greenwich Sporting Club for a comment, but they have not responded.

Have Your Say

Consultation is now open and will run from 17 September to 29 October 2020.

Lane Cove Council will also be hosting two community information drop-in sessions at the Terrace Function Room, LG Level of Lane Cove Community Hub, 1 Pottery Lane, Lane Cove. The sessions will be held from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Tuesday, 6 October and Tuesday, 13 October. These sessions provide the opportunity to review the information provided by Council staff and ask questions which may assist you in completing your survey/submission.

To assist with our COVID-Safe plan for the event, we ask that you register your attendance in advance. This will help in maintaining social distancing and other safety precautions. Drop-in session times will be limited to 20 minutes, but you may enter more than once, numbers permitting. There may be some delay in entering the room as there will be a limit on the number of people allowed in the room at any one time.

Field Markings

To allow the community to understand the scale of the enclosed field, the area of the synthetic sports field has been marked on the existing oval (as close as practical) including the off-leash dog areas during this consultation period.

Have Your Say

To have your say, please complete the online survey

If you would like to make further comments on the Draft Masterplan, you can make a submission to the General Manager, quoting the reference ‘SU8090’, by:

Written submissions close 5:00 pm Thursday 29 October 2020.

If you have any enquiries, please contact Council’s Manager – Open Space, Ted Webster on 9911 3563.

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