GM’s announcement that Holden is ceasing all operations in Australia is seen by many as a national tragedy and a great loss to the community. While I understand people’s sadness that an Australian icon will disappear, the decision gives Bass Coast an opportunity to acquire a wonderful and unique community asset.
The Lang Lang Proving Ground is a very large parcel of land, heavily vegetated with native forest and home to many vulnerable species of flora and fauna. It has a small building footprint and a large network of roads and tracks which have been used to develop vehicles suited to Australian conditions.
I believe Bass Coast Shire Council now has a window of opportunity to raise its hand on behalf of the community, acquire it on behalf of the Australian taxpayers who have heavily subsidised Holden since 1948, and redevelop the facility into a multi-use recreational facility – in simpler terms, a great big park.
The existing road network could be used for driver education, a field in which Bass Coast is already a leader, having developed the L2P program which, since its inception in Wonthaggi, has now been rolled out statewide. A network of walking and mountain bike trails would give locals a much needed recreation option: we currently lack any mountain bike facilities.
In 2006 World Trail founder and CEO Glenn Jacobs, (designer of the mountain bike cross country courses for the Sydney Olympics and Melbourne Commonwealth Games) toured Bass Coast with then councillor Gareth Barlow, and was excited by the opportunities for a mountain bike trail network in the Waterline area.
Lang Lang Proving Ground
The proving ground would be an ideal location and it would rapidly become both a greatly valued community asset and a sustainable, environmentally beneficial tourism destination.
The future of the proving grounds is very much a Bass Coast issue. The site is in the Farm Zone. It’s critical that the future use does not permit vegetation clearance. It is not farmland and should not be cleared.
A trail network would not require tree clearance. Anyone who has ever ridden a good mountain bike track knows a well-designed trail winds around trees and other obstacles and includes features such as rock armouring, which protects trails from suffering over-use or drainage erosion.
A network of skinnies, ladders, bridges and see-saws could be sustainably constructed In appropriate parts of the park for those with a greater need for adrenalin than can be satisfied by cross country cycling. There’s no wheel to be invented.
The council could put the idea in the Too Hard basket. At some point GM WILL sell the site, either to another car manufacturer or to a corporation that will seek to redevelop the site. The community will receive zero benefit and an opportunity will be lost.
Or we could use this window of opportunity to start discussions with General Motors and the State Government. We have nothing to lose.
I hope the council will at least examine the options and I call on anyone interested in a sustainable future to discuss this situation with their councillors.
On February 17 GM announced the Lang Lang test track and design centre would close by 2021. A GM spokesperson told the Post "GM is still working through options for the Lang Lang facility."
King of the road
November 15, 2017 - Over 43 years at the Holden proving ground in Lang Lang, Grantville’s Allan George drove every new Holden model. Geoff Ellis reports