Stage set for $235m redevelopment of Morisset golf course
30th August 2019
Source: Newcastle Herald | By: Max McKinney and | Posted: August 30, 2019
MORISSET golf course could be transformed into a major tourism and event venue capable of hosting the world's biggest bands under plans unveiled by a local developer.
Winarch Capital has lodged six development applications with Lake Macquarie council for the site's $235 million redevelopment, which analysts say could bring more than $790 million of economic benefit if approved.
The company's vision, driven by local resident and CVG Finance broker Paul Lambess, involves splitting the 92-hectare site into five precincts. Four of them, covering 72 hectares, would be developed straight away.
The most prominent part of Cedar Mill, as it has been titled, is a cultural, arts and events space.
The central 28-hectare area, which includes a 30,000-capacity amphitheatre that makes use of the site's natural landscape, could host festivals and trade shows with an attendance of up to 50,000 people.
An adjoining 10-hectare accommodation precinct would complement the major events space and incorporate cabins, caravans and camping.
At the front of the former golf course, the developers plan to make use of the existing clubhouse and create a nine-hectare family and community precinct with cafes, restaurants, a splash-park and gardens.
At the southern end of the site, approval is being sought for a 25-hectare lifestyle precinct that would allow for an over-55s style residential park. However, that land would be sold to a third-party to progress the project.
While the four proposed precincts fit under existing private recreation (RE2) zoning, a fifth - 20 hectares zoned environmental conservation (E2) - has been set aside for investigation.
The former Morisset Country Club, which was on a month-to-month lease, closed in May.
Club president Erica Ford said at the time disappointed members would respect the wishes of the landlord but many hoped the site would not be rezoned for housing.
"The land was bought as recreation land 30 years ago," she said, in reference to when the course was sold to a private owner in the 1980s.
Mr Lambess said Winarch Capital, which has an option on the site from owner Drysdale Metals, could have developed the site for up to "3000 or 4000" homes but wanted to create a place the community could embrace.
"As a father of a young family we want to create a true community destination that will be accessible to all of the local community and be a destination that will drive economic development for the region," he said.
"We are a strong believer in the Morisset community and we look forward to working with council to see this project become a reality."
The developer has drawn inspiration from tourism and hospitality sites around the world, with Cedar Mill described as a mix of a Hunter Valley winery, the North Byron Parklands and The Grounds of Alexandria.
As part of the proposal, most of the trees within the concert space will remain to provide shade.
Music industry experts have assessed the property and are understood to believe it could set a new benchmark for outdoor events in Australia.
Greg Piper has been an independent voice for the people of Lake Macquarie for more than 30 years, as a Member of Parliament, Mayor and councillor. He was elected to Lake Macquarie council in 1991, served as Mayor from 2004 until 2012 and has been the State MP for Lake Macquarie since 2007.