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PRESS RELEASE

Leichhardt Council’s new proposal for historic Balmain Leagues Club site dismissed by Club Directors as unviable and not based on reality

An “independent” study into the site of the historic Balmain Leagues Club, commissioned by Leichhardt Council, fails completely to take into account the commercial realities facing the Balmain Tigers nor the chequered-history of the block.

Talking on behalf of the Balmain Tigers Board, Balmain Tigers Rugby League Football Club Chairman, Leslie Glen, slammed the Council’s “disingenuous media release that claims returning the Balmain Tigers to Rozelle is a ‘key rezoning priority’”.

“The Council and Mayor Rochelle Porteous just don’t get it,” Dr Glen said.

“This latest proposal from Council would spell the sad death-knell for one of Australia’s most historic clubs.

“The Western Gateway to Rozelle is destined to remain a dilapidated site for years.

“We are at a loss to know how the study could possibly conclude ‘the best configuration for the site’, when the people tasked with completing it never spoke to the Club nor, to the best of my knowledge, the developer, Ian Wright.

“Had they, it would have been abundantly clear that any development on the site needs to ensure a commercial return to the owner that takes account of the huge costs incurred by years of delays caused by the intransigent Leichhardt Council.”

Dr Glen said the scale of development, as outlined in the Council’s media release, was far below what was endorsed by the Planning Assessment Commission 12 months ago under a Master Plan originally approved by Council in 2008.

“Balmain 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,” Dr Glen said.

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

”How can Council justify a proposal to scale down this site, when every other site is Sydney is being developed to accommodate the growing needs of the community? What has changed in the last seven years?”

Balmain Leagues Club received recently the welcome news that Mr Wright plans to lodge a compliant DA in line with the Masterplan approved by Council and granted to the club back in 2008. Meetings regarding the lodgement of the new DA have already taken place between representatives of the developer and the Council.

The DA will be lodged by mid-August this year.

“Mr Wright is keen to ensure the Club survives and is returned to Rozelle.  All we are asking Council to do is to honour the current Master Plan floor-to-space ratio approved by Council and support the compliant plans which includes the Balmain Leagues Club house,” Dr Glen said.

The Leagues Club financially supports the Football Club which includes the Balmain District Junior Rugby League.  “It’s the members, the kids and the community which will suffer the most, said Dr Glen”.

The Directors, who are all voluntary, are incredibly stressed and exhausted by years of uncertainty ”.

“We have had several talks with Leichhardt Council over the past few months, but they don’t seem to understand that if a DA is not approved by November 2015 when our agreement to lease expires, it’s all over for Balmain Tigers, we simply can not hang on any longer.

“The Board of Balmain Tigers will be forced to place the club into Voluntary Administration.

“Any rezoning of the site is a very lengthy process to complete, Balmain Tigers will be gone by then under these circumstances.”

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