It’s taken seven years but this week Manly’s village green - Ivanhoe Park & Manly Oval - was granted State Heritage status. The listing means the site is recognised in perpetuity as a historic community hub that is permanently off-limits for developers. It also becomes eligible for State Heritage Grants.
Images: Manly Oval historic gates; playing field.
Special Minister of State Don Harwin, who announced the decision this morning, said the park was a very worthy candidate meeting all seven heritage listing criteria, including Aboriginal heritage.
He also praised the passion and persistence of the community in following the process through. "One of the factors was the community esteem," Mr Harwin said. "There is an incredible community feeling for Ivanhoe Park. There were fifty submissions in support, and none against.
"You baked the cake and I'm putting on the icing. The park is now on the State Heritage Register. Congratulations - you've done it!"
The announcement was made in front of an enthusiastic crowd, including Federal MP Zali Steggall, State MP James Griffin, Northern Beaches Mayor Michael Regan, and all three Manly Ward councillors - Candy Bingham, Sarah Grattan and Pat Daley.
Images - MPs Don Harwin & James Griffin address the crowd; (L to R) Crs Candy Bingham & Michael Regan, State MP James Griffin, Cr Sarah Grattan & Fed MP Zali Steggall.
Manly leaders were quick to stress that heritage status does not mean the park will be frozen in ice. Changes are still possible, but will need to take account of the site's heritage significance and be approved by the State Heritage Council.
"This is a wonderful vindication of everything that we've been fighting for for so many years," Good For Manly President and Northern Beaches councillor Candy Bingham said. "I would like to congratulate everyone who has put so much energy into defending this precious place - particularly the Save Manly Oval Alliance, led by Jack Steggall and Roger Freney and the incredible research and documentation work led by Judy Lambert.
"Now we have an opportunity to springboard off the new listing and make Ivanhoe Park even more special. I am putting forward a motion for council to prepare a Heritage Conservation Plan and a masterplan for the whole area, respecting our heritage but restoring or improving facilities to better serve the community.
Image: Ivanhoe Park is a mixed use, tree filled 'pleasure ground'.
The fight to protect the park and sporting facilities started when Good For Manly opposed the former Manly Council’s ill-conceived plan to build a carpark under the Oval.
The battle was taken up by community group Save Manly Oval Alliance (SMOA), led by Jack Steggall, Roger Freney & Judy Lambert. Support has also come from Northern Beaches Council Mayor Michael Regan & State MP James Griffin & Federal MP Zali Steggall, whose father Jack was president of SMOA.
The park has also had the enthusiastic support of Friends of Ivanhoe Park Botanic Gardens, led by Denise and Lloyd Keen, who have successfully lobbied for council beautification works and have made the local community more aware of the green space at the heart of our CBD.
Ivanhoe Park was established in the 1850's by Henry Gilbert Smith, an early visionary who saw the potential of Manly as a place for recreation and leisure for the people of New South Wales. He established a Victorian style 'pleasure ground' with a variety of sporting and community facilities in a park land setting. As one of the few pleasure grounds that have survived intact to the present day, Ivanhoe Park is particularly precious.
The park was the site of a famous speech by 'the Father of Federation' Sir Henry Parkes, who in 1888 presented his vision for a federation commonwealth of Australian states.
It was also home to many sporting clubs that, since their formation in the 1870s and 1880s, have contributed many state and international players to Australia's cricket and rugby teams. And it was the practice ground for the Aboriginal cricketers who made up the first indigenous sports team to tour England as Australian representatives, back in 1868.
Click here for more on Ivanhoe Park's fascinating history from Manly Daily history buff John Morcombe.
Candy Bingham, Manly Ward Councillor on Northern Beaches Council. Background in marketing, public relations and community engagement. Author of five business books. Former Lady Mayoress of Sydney. Aka Candy Tymson.