A push for a community garden at Eleebana moved a step closer last night when Lake Macquarie City Council agreed to allow a development application to be submitted for the plan.
The plan has attracted controversy and divided the community, with concerns about the use of public land and the environment.
Councillors voted in favour of inviting the Warners Bay Community Garden Group to lodge an application for a garden in Bunya Park.
Council staff proposed three sites for the garden: Bunya Park, at Eleebana, T.H. Halton Park, at Croudace Bay, or Lakelands Reserve, at Lakelands, after examining 14 parcels of community land.
A council report said Bunya Park was the ‘‘preferred site’’.
The report said a community garden at Bunya Park could cost the council $8000 for a water supply extension and other work, while costs for the Croudace Bay and Lakelands’ sites were estimated at $5000 to $10,000 and $217,000 respectively.
Councillors Garry Edwards and Kay Fraser raised concerns about the cost, but Cr Hannah Gissane said they should not be concerned about an expense of less than $10,000.
Council staff recommended that councillors inspect the three sites before making a decision, but Cr Barry Johnston called for the garden group to be allowed to submit a development application for Bunya Park.
Cr Johnston said residents opposed to a garden would eventually realise its positive values.
‘‘Having people there with a strong social and environmental conscience can only be good for the community,’’ he said.