The long running saga of the redevelopment of Balmain Leagues Club is entering another chapter. But there is no sign of it being the denouement to a seemingly unending drama of Dickensian proportions.
Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne has pointed the finger at the Rozelle Village for stalling the process, an accusation which has been denied by the developer.
On Tuesday, Clr Byrne said in a statement that the developer had reinstated a pedestrian bridge in plans before the NSW Land and Environment Court, and that the alteration will result in further delays.
The outcome of the application was due to be determined in the next three weeks by the court.
The statement from Clr Byrne is the latest in a series of back and forth attacks between him and the owner of Rozelle Village.
“Developer Rozelle Village pretends that Council is delaying approval of their proposal, but yet again they have changed their plans, deliberately slowing the process.
He said that the developer Rozelle Village knew that the move would result in a delay.
“Since 2009 they have now submitted a multitude of different applications to the State Government, most of them over 20 storeys.
“Given that this is a $177 million proposal, it is extraordinary that they still haven’t managed to submit their final plans.”
“The community, the club and fans deserve better,” Clr Byrne said.
“It’s time the Developer got its act together and settled on a sensible proposal so that development can proceed.”
Ian Wright, who owns Rozelle Village and is responsible for the DA told City Hub that Mayor Byrne was playing games.
“Why on earth would we be delaying our own development application?”
“The council wrote to the Land and Environment Court on 13th November 2015 and said the pedestrian bridge should be deleted from the plan. We wrote to the council on the 18th Dec offering to delete the bridge and pay council $1million to be used for community benefit.”
He said that plans were amended to delete the bridge from the plan.
“Council are now attempting to have these proceedings thrown out of court because it doesn’t have a pedestrian bridge. We are asking the court to rely on the court to use the original drawings that included the bridge.”
President of Rozelle Residents Action Group Mark Wallis said he didn’t know what to make of the move, but was sure some sort of “game” was being played.
He said that he supported the inclusion of the pedestrian bridge, because that would connect it to the existing shopping precinct in Rozelle, as well as it being part of the agreement to rezone the land.
But he said that the move to reinstate it was part of the modus operandi.
“At the end of last year Rozelle Village agreed to remove the bridge from the plans, but what it means by changing it at the last minute, all the prep by council’s legal team is wasted.
“They’ve made a last minute change, I don’t know what sort of games they’re playing.”
“If you’re going to increase the traffic and pedestrian movements, the pedestrian bridge didn’t isolate the development from shopping precinct and the heart of Rozelle Village.
“The biggest driver of traffic is the retail component, for problems on Victoria Rd and that is our main reason for opposition to the development.”
The first masterplan was taken to council in 2004.
“We’re still fighting it all this time later,” Mr Wallis said. “If they were willing to talk to community, they would have had something built by now.”
A spokesperson for Balmain Tigers said that they had no further comment on proceedings.