Council makes strategic investment in Katoomba – to create future benefits and opportunities for the City
06 Oct 2020
Blue Mountains City Council has purchased the former Katoomba Golf Clubhouse site – with a view to establishing a global Planetary Health Leadership Centre with two universities, to help create future benefits and opportunities for the Blue Mountains community.
The elected Council endorsed, at the Council Meeting on 29 September, the purchase of the strategic site that sits alongside the former Katoomba golf course – Council’s largest operational land holding, at 29.66 hectares.
Council is working with Western Sydney University and the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (via Monash University) to finalise a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The MoU sets out a commitment to explore opportunities to establish a leadership centre of national and international significance, in the field of Planetary Health.
Mayor Mark Greenhill said: “The site is a strategic investment opportunity with significant potential benefits for the City in the short, medium and long term. Council will explore, with the community, the best strategic options for future uses of the precinct through the upcoming master plan process for Katoomba.
“What’s exciting is that this opportunity gives us our first real chance to work with universities to establish a leadership centre in the Blue Mountains, that would provide jobs, as well as income that comes from sources other than rates.”
In the short term, the income generated from the site will help cover the costs associated with the facility and to maintain the former golf course site. In the medium to long term, Council will explore a range of options aligned with Council’s community-endorsed strategic direction for a sustainable Blue Mountains.
Establishing a planetary health leadership centre with universities is an action of the Local Strategic Planning Statement, endorsed by Council in March 2020.
The centre could be used to research and promote sustainable living, environmental science and other initiatives relating to how human practices can better support a healthy planet for current and future generations. This would also include research into climate change and bushfire management, and their impact on the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and its unique biodiversity.
Discussions between the strategic partners have canvassed the potential to link a Planetary Health Leadership Centre at the former Katoomba Golf Course site, with a hub in Katoomba Town Centre and connect the two with an interpretative trail. It is believed that the development would attract school children, scientists and researchers to the City.
It is also envisaged that an external donor funded UNESCO Chair in Planetary Health could be attached to the learning centre.
Chief Executive Officer Dr Rosemary Dillon said: “As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Greater Blue Mountains region being granted World Heritage status, it is a fitting gift to the City – and the world – that we look to establish such a significant centre.
“This site has significant potential to support appropriate development of this precinct that enables sustainable economic and social development, as well as job creation.
“By purchasing the clubhouse site, it remains in Council’s ownership and leverages opportunities for the future.”
The purchase has been funded by Council’s Property Investment Fund and internal sources, to avoid the long-term cost of borrowing. This project will not take away from Council’s core, critical infrastructure projects.
“Rather it has potential to generate revenue and to ease future financial burden on our ratepayers,” Dr Dillon said. “It will help position our City – that sits within a World Heritage Area – to become a leader in the field of Planetary Health.
“This is in line with the Vision of the Blue Mountains Community Strategic Plan that we achieve: ‘A more sustainable and successful Blue Mountains by 2035, environmentally, socially and economically’, and that ‘The Blue Mountains is recognised nationally and internationally as a creative model for sustainable living and learning about sustainable communities’.”
Planetary Health links the things we do, with the health of people and the health of the planet. Its aim is to provide a framework for us to reassess and adapt human practices to better support a healthy planet. It also includes learning from the more sustainable resource management practices that have been used by traditional peoples from around the world for millennia.
Photo: An aerial view of the former Katoomba Golf Clubhouse site, situated alongside the former Katoomba golf course – Council’s largest operational land holding, at 29.66 hectares.