BY KENJI SATO
Leichhardt Council and Rozelle Village Director Ian Wright are locked in a contest over the redevelopment of Balmain Leagues Club.
Last week, Mr Wright said that Leichhardt Council had repeatedly rejected his DA proposals for the site’s redevelopment, destroying the future prospects of the club.
But Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne called Mr Wright’s claims ‘nonsense’, and said that it was Mr Wright himself who was ‘putting the nail in the coffin’ of the club.
The claims came in light of Mr Wright’s latest submission of a DA to the Land and Environment Court.
The DA proposes to build one 8 storey and one 12 storey tower in Rozelle, with 3658 square metres of floor space dedicated to the Balmain Leagues Club.
Clr Byrne said that these proposals would overdevelop the site and come at a heavy cost to the Balmain Tigers.
“Mr Wright’s position is the same as it’s always been. He wants the biggest development possible and if he doesn’t get his way he’s willing to threaten the existence of the Club,” Clr Byrne said.
“Council has consistently advocated for a new leagues club to be made available at low or no cost to the Balmain Tigers as part of the development, something Rozelle Village has continuously opposed,” he said.
Leichhardt Council’s DA proposes much smaller developments, with 6 and 8 storey towers and 2033 square metres of floor space dedicated to the Balmain Leagues Club at reduced rent.
President of Rozelle Residents Action Group Mark Wallis told City Hub that he was in favour of the smaller development plan, warning that Mr Wright’s proposal would place too much burden on Rozelle’s traffic system.
“For the council proposal, they looked at what the maximum amount of traffic the site could bear without major disruption on the surrounding streets and on Victoria Road and Darling Street, and then they built their model based on that,” Mr Wallis said.
“I think if Ian Wright’s proposal goes forward it will turn the area into gridlock, particularly on weekends. Like his previous proposals, it all revolves around traffic and the inappropriateness of the size of the development in relation to the surrounding community.”
Leichhardt Council put forward an application to the Department of Planning and Environment to rezone Rozelle Village so that only smaller developments would be possible.
But the proposals were rejected, and Mr Wallis said that this will delay development even further.
“Council made a mistake in zoning the site up to the level they did originally. They’ve now recognised that and come up with a sensible rezoning of the site and I think that’s what we need to move forward with. Until the developer sees the light, that’s not going to happen.”
Mr Wallis said that the Rozelle Residents Action Group still strongly opposed Mr Wright’s proposal.
“We’re eleven years in and we’re still no further along to having a resolution. But I’m optimistic. We’ve shown in the past we haven’t slackened in our resolution to oppose this. Eleven years on we’re still here, the same group of us is still involved, and we’ll fight it as hard as we can.”
Leichhardt Council met with Rozelle residents last Wednesday, November 4, to discuss Ian Wright’s DA and the future of the beleagured leagues club.
In the lead up to the meeting, members of the Rozelle Residents Action Group led a “Save Rozelle” campaign, distributing flyers outlining the differences between Ian Wright’s DA and the council’s DA.
The Rozelle Residents Action Group is urging residents to send their own submissions to Leichhardt Council.