Inner West Independent

Inner West mayor decries delayed demolition of ‘hazardous eyesore’ following Balmain fire

Balmain fire

There was a large fire at the site of the disused Balmain Leagues Club on Saturday. Photo: Facebook.

By PATRICK MCKENZIE

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne has called on the NSW government to demolish the “hazardous eyesore” Balmain Leagues Club, following a large fire at the disused site yesterday.

While police continue to investigate the suspicious fire at the abandoned Balmain Leagues Club that left black smoke blowing into the sky, Cr Byrne spoke out against long-delayed plans to demolish the site once and for all.

“The NSW government says that they are instead going to compulsorily acquire the property to use it as a massive tunnelling site for their Western Harbour Tunnel,” Cr Byrne said.

“But for 2 years they have not acted while refusing to allow the owner to demolish the building.”

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne. Photo: Facebook.

According to council, plans to redevelop the site date back to 2004. In 2016, council won a battle in the NSW Land and Environment Court against the overdevelopment of the site.

Council then adopted new development control plans in 2019, that defined site-specific plans for “rearrangement of the built form, building setbacks and access, relocation of the future town square to the centre of the site [and] updated controls related to environmental and waste management, and design excellence”. 

Cr Byrne also noted that a Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel-approved proposal from September 2020 is yet to be implemented while it is being used to support tunnelling construction.

“The owners of the site have been unable to proceed with their development, which was approved by a State Government appointed panel, and includes a new Wests Tigers Leagues Club,” Byrne said.

Balmain fire comes after local and state friction over land use

Inner West Council has consistently opposed the use of the location as a tunnelling site for the Western Harbour Tunnel.

“Council is concerned it would result in significant construction impacts and would unduly delay redevelopment of this site, essentially eliminating the possibility of a Tigers Leagues Club being established in the new development,” a page on the Council website reads.

“Further concerns with the dive site include noise, vibration, dust, road safety and congestion impacts from the significant number of truck movements and 24/7 operations.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that Transport for NSW “would be supportive of any steps the owners of the former Balmain Leagues Club site wish to undertake to ensure it is safe and secure while NSW Police and Fire and Rescue NSW conduct their inquiries”. 

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