MORE than 1000 people have signed a petition calling for vacant land owned by the Sovereign Hill historical park to become a permanent public park.
The land has been owned by Sovereign Hill since 1997. Local residents say they were not properly consulted about the sale of the site and any proposed residential development.
The land, at the corner of Magpie and Bradshaw streets, has been used as a public space for decades and includes a cricket pitch, training nets, a basketball court and a disused tennis court.
Magpie Street resident and campaigner Peter Wills said the latest signatures calling on the City of Ballarat to buy the land would be presented at tonight’s council meeting.
“A lot of people from all over town have used this spot over the years and there are plenty of people angry at what appears to be development for development’s sake,” Mr Wills said. “We believe it would be a shame if the land was sold off to a private owner.”
He said residents were prepared to take extraordinary measures to protect access to the land, by petitioning the Victorian and Commonwealth governments or even the Queen herself.
“I don’t believe this really is privately owned land. It has a long and lasting public footprint firmly on it and has plenty of history,” he said.
Sovereign Hill chief executive officer Jeremy Johnson said in November the surplus land would be sold to buy a larger parcel of land further along Magpie Street to expand the museum.
Mr Wills said residents could sign the petition in the public gallery of tonight’s council meeting at Ballarat Town Hall.