THE state government and Newcastle City Council must pay costs from last year’s successful legal challenge to the approval of a function centre in King Edward Park.
The Land of Environment Court win for Friends of King Edward Park comes after it successfully challenged developer Keith Stronach’s approval to redevelop the former bowling club site, and upholds last May’s ruling that the group be awarded costs.
In upholding his original decision to award costs, Justice Terence Sheahan ordered the council and the government-appointed King Edward Headland Reserve Trust to each pay half the group’s cost in the latest proceedings.
The council was also ordered to pay costs from its attempt to seek $70,000 security from the group for its own costs.
Friends of King Edward Park spokesman Kim Ostinga said the total legal bill of the case would “run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
Dr Ostinga said the group’s roughly $35,000 share of the money would contribute to “continuing a watching brief” of the park.
“This is a real win for everyone who supports the principle of the preservation of Crown or public land for the public rather than for private profit,” Dr Ostinga said.
“The initial ruling was a watershed moment for the protection of public land in NSW, and this latest ruling will mean that King Edward Park can continue to get the attention it deserves.”
Newcastle City Council declined to comment on the ruling.
Last May, the court declared the Stronach Group function centre impermissible on the Crown headland reserve since it was intended for public recreation.
Mr Stronach told the Newcastle Herald the “naysayers have managed to hold the city back”, and that the site would remain vacant after years of planning for a project that would have created up to 60 jobs.