Croquet club's future in doubt

SUTHERLAND Croquet Club members are facing eviction because of plans to build a high-rise development on lawns where they have played for more than 30 years.

Turfed out: Sutherland Croquet Club members are concerned after being told by Miranda RSL that their three lawns are being taken for redevelopment as a highrise. Left to right: Win Russell, Kath Coull, Ron Johnstone and David Woods. Picture:Jane Dyson

Turfed out: Sutherland Croquet Club members are concerned after being told by Miranda RSL that their three lawns are being taken for redevelopment as a highrise. Left to right: Win Russell, Kath Coull, Ron Johnstone and David Woods. Picture:Jane Dyson

Miranda RSL Club has an option over an area next to Waratah Park, Sutherland, that includes the croquet club and Sylvanvale Foundation site.

It plans to build seniors housing, a 200-bed aged-care centre and a new facility for Sylvanvale.

While final plans have yet to be released, the Sutherland Shire draft local environmental plan mentions the club's proposal to also build 500 units on the site.

The proposal was set aside from the draft LEP for further consultation.

RSL NSW originally received a perpetual lease on the land to build a bowling club.

This closed about 20 years ago and the croquet club has since used the bowling club's three greens.

Sylvanvale pays rent on its premises while the croquet club has a "gentleman's agreement" with Miranda RSL to use the grounds for free.

Sutherland Croquet Club president Tony McArthur said he realised the club would have to move but the uncertainty of its future concerned members.

The club has about 50 members aged from their mid-30s to 92, with about 70 per cent aged over 70.

"We understand that it is important to have more housing for seniors but it is also important to have outdoor sporting facilities for seniors," he said.

Miranda RSL Club has suggested Sutherland and Port Hacking croquet clubs merge and offered to pay the Sutherland club $50,000 to assist with its relocation.

"Part of the agreement was that the Port Hacking club would redevelop another half-lawn," Mr McArthur said. "All our members have said they would prefer not to merge.

"If we amalgamate it would mean putting up to 100 croquet players onto three lawns, which is less than we have got now."

The club has spoken to Sutherland Shire Council about other options, including the possibility of moving to The Ridge sports complex.

"A lot of our older members are very concerned," Mr McArthur said.

"This is their sport. Some of them play up to five times a week.

"We are a very tight-knit group. If someone doesn't arrive to play on a Saturday we find out if they are OK. We look out for each other."

Miranda RSL Club was unable to provide a comment.

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