Richmond locals are fighting hard to keep their home of sport, after the Victorian Government announced plans to sell the land to property developers.
The recreational courts at Ryan’s Reserve have been a much-loved part of the community for over 25 years, however, its future has now come under threat.
Under the Victorian Government’s plan to re-zone the facility, the public space will be sold to developers, to cater for predicted population growth in the Yarra suburbs.
In a bid to keep their beloved courts open, locals have launched the ‘Saving Ryan’s Reserve’ campaign, raising awareness across surrounding suburbs and money for potential redevelopments.
Amongst those pioneering the campaign is Richmond local Maree Nihill, whose daughters have been using the court’s netball and tennis facilities for 13 years.
With the courts thriving on weeknights and weekends, Ms Nihill believes removing the facility would be a mistake.
“Healthy communities need easy access to sporting opportunities… you should place recreational facilities amongst it, not remove them,” she said.
Ms Nihill is not alone in supporting the recreational courts. Over 300 locals have joined the ‘Saving Ryan’s Reserve’ Facebook page, while another 1,400 have signed a petition to keep it open. On top of that, almost $1,000 has been donated to the cause.
The support to save Ryan’s Reserve has not only come from Richmond locals, but from surrounding suburbs too, as the courts also service the wider community.
“At present Ryan’s Reserve caters for local users, people who live in the south-west of Boroondara, Stonnington and further afield,” Nihill said.
“We all need access to recreational opportunities within our neighbourhoods.”
Despite the overwhelming support for Ryan’s Reserve, the Victorian Government may still decide to go ahead with the redevelopment plans.
The City of Yarra is predicting a 33 per cent growth over the next 20 years, while a population growth of 79 per cent is predicted for the Burnley and Cremone areas.
As developments are on the rise around the inner city suburbs, the state government sees Ryan’s Reserve as another housing opportunity.
A property lawyer, who chose not to be named, said that the development would be advantageous for the area.
“A development at Ryan’s Reserve would create jobs both directly and indirectly and, with new residents, was likely to be a boost for local businesses,” he said.
“The council would ensure that there was sufficient open space compensation if Ryan’s Reserve was sold for development purposes.”
While the Government continues to deliberate the matter, Ms Nihill hopes the community’s hard work can save the local facility.
“A Public Parks and Recreation Zone should not be for sale… Nothing justifies the loss of Ryan’s Reserve,” she said.
There has been no official word on the future of Ryan’s Reserve, as a final decision is yet to be reached.
By Marnie Cohen