An impasse over the future of the Camperdown caravan park in the Camperdown Botanic Gardens has led Corangamite Shire Council to scrap the gardens’ reference group.
The Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Reference Group was abolished after a council officer reported it “had not operated strategically nor cohesively as was its intention and it is unlikely that any action by the council will change this.”
A community group on the reference group, the Camperdown Botanic Gardens and Arboretum Trust, has lobbied for some years for the caravan park to be removed from the gardens.
That approach placed it in conflict with the caravan park lessee, who was also a member of the reference group.
Corangamite mayor Neil Trotter told the council’s January meeting the reference group had reached an impasse that was difficult to resolve.
Cr Jo Beard said it was unfortunate the council had to abolish the reference group “but there is no other way forward.”
Trust president Janet O’Hehir said it supported the abolition of the reference group because the group did not have the right composition.
The lessees of the caravan park, and of gardens’ land used for grazing, were “not the right people to be on the group,” she said.
Those lessees had not been interested in managing the botanical assets of the gardens, Ms O’Hehir said.
She said while part of the gardens site had been used as a caravan park for decades, the council’s plan to develop it further into a holiday park heightened the conflict with the gardens’ role as a public park.
“A private business needs to be compatible with a public park. That (a holiday park) really is not (compatible),” Ms O’Hehir said.
She said the Camperdown botanic gardens were on the State heritage register and and had been a public park for 150 years.
The council decided it would handle the management of the gardens.
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