Hawkesbury Council grants permission for Sydney Polo Club to host the Polo World Championship

A practice polo match at Sydney Polo Club last year. Picture: Geoff Jones
A practice polo match at Sydney Polo Club last year. Picture: Geoff Jones

THE World Polo Championship has been given approval by Hawkesbury Council.

At the February 28 meeting, Council unanimously voted to grant permission for the event to be hosted in October at the Sydney Polo Club in the Richmond Lowlands.

Council received a re-zoning application from Basscave, which trades as Sydney Polo Club, seeking to rezone parts of the Richmond Lowlands to allow for not only polo but a range of other uses, such as a microbrewery, veterinary hospital and light industry.

Sydney Polo Club’s Peter Higgins said he was happy Council had approved the World Polo Championship.

“I am very happy with the outcome. I give credit to all 12 of the Councillors for their wisdom on making this very sensible decision,” he said.

The application has not been without controversy and a number of objectors in the Lowlands have voiced their opposition to Mr Higgins’ plans.

Former Hawkesbury Mayor Kim Ford, neighbours John Marshall, Warren Capp and Mike van Gestel, among others placed advertisements in The Gazette recently.

Their objections, in brief, were that the proposed rezoning by Sydney Polo Club was far too broad, and many of the measures were not needed to host the Polo World Championships.

At the Council meeting, representatives of Mr Marshall and other neighbours argued against the planning proposal, arguing that the 19 proposed uses were not necessary to simply host the Polo World Championships.

Mr Marshall told The Gazette he was disappointed with Hawkesbury Council’s decision and said they ignored a raft of issues with the planning proposal.

“The decision of Council is plainly inconsistent with planning laws and deaf to the legitimate concerns of many local residents and key regulators,” he said.

"As a polo player and supporter for many years I am all for having Hawkesbury host the World Cup. But that doesn’t mean Council can just disregard the planning laws when it suits to fit a specific purpose – the same rules and regulations must apply to everyone.”

Mr Higgins said he was dismayed that Mr Marshall and others neighbours objected to his proposal.

Council’s resolution effectively separated the World Polo Championships from the rest of the larger rezoning proposal, which Sydney Polo Club had lodged.

Council’s resolution said that anything in the proposal directly related to the World Polo Championships would grant permission, and the other proposed changes would be dealt with at a later date, pending further reports.

Council’s director of city planning Matthew Owens was removed from the Council meeting while the planning proposal was heard.

Acting general manager Laurie Mifsud said a complaint had been made about Mr Owens, with reference to LEP 006/15, the Sydney Polo Club planning proposal.

“The allegation is currently being investigated by an independent third party and since the receipt of the allegation, Mr. Owens has withdrawn from any and all dealings with this application,” Mr Mifsud said.