Mount Compass Golf Course controversy continues

No development: Residents protest plans to redevelop the Mount Compass Golf Course. Photo: Michael Simmons.
No development: Residents protest plans to redevelop the Mount Compass Golf Course. Photo: Michael Simmons.

Residents have continued to express concerns over the potential redevelopment of the Mount Compass Golf Course for hundreds of housing allotments.

The controversy follows zoning changes to the golf course which are currently under review by the independent State Planning Commission, at the request of Planning Minister Vickie Chapman.

An online petition created by resident Shae Townley calling for the cessation of plans to develop the golf course currently has more than 1700 signatures and both Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie and Member for Finniss, David Basham have spoken out against plans to develop the site.

"Since this came to light, I've been inundated by concerned residents," Ms Sharkie said.

"I see this as a real David and Goliath battle. A decision won't be made by council, it will be made at a state government level and even though I'm federal, this community needs someone to go into bat for them and I will do everything I can..."

Ms Sharkie said carving up the golf course for housing would be "a travesty".

Mr Basham said he had never supported a proposal to "develop 681 allotments over the whole golf course".

"The Mount Compass Golf Course is an important community asset. As a long-term resident of the Mount Compass area, I value the golf course. It is my strong preference the golf course remains as a community asset for years to come," he said.

"It is my understanding under the old Development Act the Mount Compass Golf Course was unusually zoned residential with an overlay put in place to prevent subdivision and ensure a golf course is retained."

Under South Australia's new planning code, the golf course was rezoned from "residential" to "rural, recreation and neighbourhood" following a recommendation made by the Alexandrina Council in February 2021.

Golf course owner Stephen Connor expressed his frustration at this decision at an Environment, Resources and Development Committee hearing on May 24.

He said this change would have massive implications for his business and suggested the land was worth "about 10 per cent of the value" it had been previously. He also said the courses' "future was always at risk".

"I bought it as a residential development site, not as a golf course," he told the committee.

Following a report in The Times last week, Mr Connor said his position had been misrepresented and that he had invested heavily in the golf course.

"We have seen it and the Range Restaurant climb in patronage and reputation," he said.

"Under our management the course has achieved a #73 ranking in the Australian Golf Digest Top 100 Golf Course list in Australia.

"We just invested in a new fleet of 20 golf carts and have plans to upgrade the clubhouse, irrigation system and new maintenance equipment - investments of many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why would we do that if we wanted to close it down?

"If the community wishes to see the golf course continue, as we do, they should throw their full weight behind the state government's proposal to rezone it to Golf Course Estate."

The Times sent Mr Connor a number of questions to clarify his plans for the site, but he did not respond.

"Councillor [Bill] Coomans and Alexandrina Council's misguided campaign to have our property rezoned Rural and Recreation will do nothing but bring the golf course and our business to an early demise," Mr Connor said.

An Alexandrina Council spokesperson said the Mount Compass Golf Course was an important feature of Mount Compass and a key reason for the community to have established there.

"Therefore any risk to the golf course area being able to be developed through the wrong application of zoning in the transition to the new Code needs to be avoided," the spokesperson said.

"Should there be a desire by the land owner to undertake further development on the golf course land then a Code Amendment should be undertaken thereby ensuring full disclosure of the development intent and an ability for Council and the community to be fully informed and engaged."

It is understood Ms Chapman has recommended to the State Planning Commission that the golf course site be zoned as "Golf Course Estate" which would allow for the ongoing operation of the golf course supported by some residential development.

Mr Basham said Minister Chapman had made it very clear to him that there would be full public consultation, allowing residents and the Alexandrina Council to have their say on the proposed changes before any decision was made.