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Balmain Tigers face being placed in voluntary administration following local Council’s decision to rezone historic clubhouse site

One of Australia’s most famous sporting clubs, the Balmain Tigers, faces the real prospect of being placed into voluntary administration within weeks because of a decision by Leichhardt Council to rezone the site of the club’s historic home on Victoria Road, Rozelle.

The Club’s directors said an unexpected decision by the Leichhardt Mayor, Rochelle Porteous, to rezone the historic site, would make a return by the Tigers to their home of more than 50 years impossible.

The ability for Tigers to meet their short term financial obligations is heavily dependent on the Club’s directors being confident the Tigers can eventually return to a fully-operational clubhouse at Rozelle.

In 2008, the Balmain Leagues Club won approval from Leichhardt Council to redevelop its Rozelle site, following four years’ of discussions with the Council.

The 2008 zoning carries a floor-to-space ration (FSR) of 3.9:1. However, Cr Porteous has said the site should now carry an FSR of 1:1 for commercial development and 1.5:1 for mixed-use development.

It is simply not commercially feasible for a Tigers clubhouse to be part of a development of that size.

The club worked closely with the Council to secure the 2008 zoning.

The Tigers spent some $8 million acquiring properties adjacent to the site in 2005 and 2006 on the advice of Leichhardt Council, in order to secure the required zoning.

This zoning still covers the site and would allow for a development of a scale sufficient to include a new Tigers club house.

Last year the State Government’s independent Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) said the provisions of the current zoning provided “an appropriate framework for the future redevelopment of the site”.

The Club’s directors call on Cr Porteous to heed the PAC’s advice and retain the zoning applied by Council in 2008.

The site is owned by Rozelle Village, which has loaned substantial sums of money to BLC to allow it to establish temporary operations at Five Dock and Flemington and to ensure its ongoing support of both Balmain Football Club and Balmain Junior Rugby League.

This was also meant to ensure the Tigers could eventually return to Rozelle.

Rozelle Village has continued to support BLC through difficult times which has been greatly appreciated.

Any sale of the site will be with a caveat and agreement to lease for 45 years that would secure Balmain Leagues Club’s future.

But a rezoning would mean any new owner or development would not be of sufficient size to make a Tigers return to Rozelle commercially desirable and place in serious jeopardy the agreement to lease that was negotiated by the club.

Mayor Porteous says she wants the Tigers to return to Rozelle yet makes decisions that not only prevent such a move, but which place the very future of a sporting icon in jeopardy.

The Tigers’ 16,000 members have been through the wringer.

First the global financial crisis forced the club to sell the site; then the then NSW State Labor Government forced us to vacate the site to build a Metro Station, only for the Metro to be scrapped weeks later and now, just as there was light at the end of the tunnel, Leichhardt Council has pulled the rug out from under us.

We just want a fair go.

The current zoning would allow for the construction of three towers on the site, a 12-storey residential tower, with retail space on the lower levels, eight-storey and three-storey towers, with a new premises for the Balmain Leagues Club.

It took the Balmain Leagues Club four years, eight Leichhardt Council meetings, numerous expert reports and many millions of dollars to secure Council approval of the masterplan.

It’s unfair for the Council to shift the goalposts.

More information:
Dr Leslie Glen, Chairman BTRLFC, Director BLC – 02 8789 6314

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