Have your say on Rathmines Park Master Plan, now on public exhibition

VISION: The Rathmines Park Catalina War Memorial. Picture: Supplied
VISION: The Rathmines Park Catalina War Memorial. Picture: Supplied

Broadening the use of Rathmines Park without compromising its heritage value is the aim of a draft master plan for the site which is now on public exhibition.

The master plan and a separate plan of management, designed to map out the future for the Lake Macquarie park which was a key seaplane base during World War II, will be available for the public to see until August 7.

Additionally, there will be a public hearing about the proposed changes to the park run by Lake Macquarie City Council on July 23.

"The two draft plans will enhance the community's opportunities for sport and recreation," the council's manager for assets management, Brendan Callander, said.

"But the measures they recommend also celebrate and commemorate this unique site's important history."

Catalina long-range patrol bombers, along with other aircraft, flew from Rathmines during WWII, conducting coastal patrols in search of enemy raiders.

The base closed in 1956, but many of its key features remain, including part of the north-east hangar, the former Sergeants Mess, the former Officers Mess and the base hospital.

The Rathmines Park children's play areas are set for an upgrade.

The Rathmines Park children's play areas are set for an upgrade.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the council had undertaken extensive community consultation to produce the draft documents.

"We will continue to listen to the community throughout this exhibition period," Cr Fraser said.

"The result is set to be a suitably impressive public space that respects the past and embraces the future. This is one of Lake Mac's landmark sites and we want to treat it accordingly."

A new Rathmines Park youth hub already funded by the council will include a skate park and pump/BMX track, an upgraded children's playground, outdoor gym equipment and interpretive signs recognising the site's history.

Footpaths will be upgraded and extended throughout the park, connecting to upgraded amenities.

The Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes changing some existing land categories within the park.

Mr Callander said that included re-categorising some areas from 'park' to 'natural area foreshore' to reflect environmental objectives.

"Given the site is now listed in the NSW State Heritage Register and its heritage significance is managed in accordance with the Rathmines Park Conservation Management Plan, it is also proposed to remove the 'Cultural Significance' category," Mr Callander said.

The draft plans are on public exhibition at shape.lakemac.com.au/rathmines-park.

As the Rathmines Park Plan of Management proposes to change some existing land categories within the park, Lake Macquarie City Council, guided by the Local Government Act 1993, is required to host an independently-chaired public hearing to seek community feedback on the re-categorisation.

In line with the NSW Government's COVID-19 protocols, the public hearing will be held online on July 23 from 6pm. To register for the hearing, click here.