SIX user groups have officially jointly opposed Horsham council's draft City to River master plan.
The plan outlines Horsham Rural City's development for the next 20 years. Submissions for the draft plan closed on August 30.
Horsham Amateur Basketball Association, Horsham Croquet Club, Horsham Lawn Tennis Club, Horsham Miniature Railway Association, Horsham Showgrounds Committee of Management and Horsham Greyhound Racing Club are directly impacted, should the proposal go ahead in its current form.
The groups signed a joint submission to express their opposition to the draft plan. Each also made individual submissions.
The council's chief executive Sunil Bhalla said those submissions were among more than 750 submissions to the plan.
"The groups recently met to discuss the City to River draft master plan. We wish to express our opposition to this plan," the joint submission read.
"We do not support this plan in any way because it will detrimental to our associations and therefore our members. We believe the proposal is not a good use of money for the community, and it interferes with associations who already run successful programs."
However, Mr Bhalla said further consultation with affected user groups would occur in the next phase of the plan.
"Following the completion of the master plan, an action and implementation plan will be developed, which will include what steps need to occur in order to find suitable alternate sites where applicable," Mr Bhalla said.
The draft plan recommends the development of a new multi-purpose shared infrastructure outdoor sports precinct on the Crown land reserve at Horsham Showground.
Horsham Greyhound Racing Club occupies the land and has a lease agreement until 2035.
Greyhound Racing Victoria's submission said the draft plan "failed to recognise the importance of the Horsham Greyhound Racing Club, (and its) economic and social contribution" to Horsham.
"The proposed plan for the redevelopment of the showgrounds site as a new multi-purpose shared outdoor sports precinct on the Crown land reserve includes no provision for the greyhound track," the submission read.
"The master plan also makes no mention of what council's future plans are for greyhound racing in Horsham."
The submission estimated the greyhound racing industry provided a financial benefit to the Wimmera of $3.5 million. Club manager Justin Brilliant said the economic benefits of the club had not been considered in the draft plan.
"From our point-of-view, the glaring omission was a lack of consultation with us and a lack of alternative options for relocation. The council initially wanted us moved somewhere else, but I don't know where," he said.
Mr Brilliant is also the Horsham Showground Management Committee chairman. He said the group had an ongoing lease for the land.
"The council would have to remove a publicly elected committee since we are on Crown land. We have our lease and we're happy where we are," he said.
"We're still in conversations with the council about how we can help the community and city grow."
Horsham Amateur Basketball Association president Owen Hughan said the group was against the plan as there were "too many problems" with it.
The basketball association was also opposed to a previous plan, released in 2018, that proposed a multi-user sport stadium at McBryde Street.
"It's going to kill us. The council has virtually gone to these groups and told us that we're gone," he said.
"The council has to go back to the drawing board because there are too many community members against it. You can't lob everyone in together, it needed to be broken down."
The draft plan said Horsham City Oval, and Horsham lawn tennis and croquet clubs had facilities which "did not meet current standards" and "as a result cannot host certain events or accommodate participation from a broad cross section of the community".
Horsham Croquet Club president Betty Etherton said the club didn't want to shift.
"We feel our members wouldn't be able to afford their membership if we were shifted. It would also mean that we wouldn't be regional centre for the state," she said.
"If there minor adjustments needed to our club, that would cost a lot less than relocating us."
Mrs Etherton said she hoped the joint submission would "carry more weight" than individual submissions.
"It will also help for future reference. If they get a grant and tell us to move, then we can as a group, say that we've been against the plan since the start," she said.
Horsham Lawn Tennis Club president Andrew Dorman said the club was concerned about its future.
"We're concerned with the whole process and the lack of detail of what happens next. We don't know what the council's intention is," he said.
"Our concern is that if the council wants to build new facilities, it will cost our members a lot more to play sport.
"You can also see the toll this is taking on the volunteers. We are not paid to defend our patches and we feel like we've been treated fairly poorly."
The joint submission was sent to all Horsham Rural City councillors and the council's chief executive Sunil Bhalla. Mr Hughan said the council had responded, saying it needed to "go through the proper procedures".
Horsham council responds
SUNIL Bhalla said the council would consult further with affected groups after a review of all submissions.
He said the first phase of consultation involved a range of targeted activities with key groups, while the second phase would relate to the submissions specifically.
The council received 757 submissions to the plan. Of those, 56 were received via email or letter. The remaining came via the form the council provided.
He said Horsham school students had also made submissions.
"City to River engagement activities were guided by a range of council policies including the Youth Strategy, which was endorsed by the council in August 2018," he said.
"This strategy is based on a rights-based, youth friendly city framework. Youth-friendly cities are committed to improving the lives of young people by realising their rights as articulated in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"In practice, a youth-friendly city is a city in which the voices, needs, priorities and rights of young people are an integral part of public policies, programs and decisions.
"Youth-friendly city frameworks identify engagement with young people as a central activity in creating youth-friendly cities. Where young people are active agents and their voices and opinions influence decision making processes.
"To consider a submission differently based on age or gender is discrimination. No doubt council will exercise its discretion on how much weight it places on submissions from individuals and groups."
Mr Bhalla said the next step of the process would be to review all submissions received.
"Councillors will decided on how to respond to feedback and any further consultation required prior to deciding on the final master plan," he said.
"Following the completion of the final master plan, an action and implementation plan will be prepared. Individual projects will go through a rigorous detailed planning and design phase and in some cases business planning prior to proceeding.
"These projects will be 'generally in accordance' with the endorsed master plan, with final designs and operating models subject to detailed planning and further targeted consultation."
Councillors will be provided a copy of all submissions.
Read the full draft City to River master plan below
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.