A 1500 square metre space which was to become a “community hub” in the brick pit development at Kirrawee could be broken up into small shops and leased to commercial tenants.
The move has been recommended by Sutherland Shire Council staff and follows the rejection last year of a proposal to move Sutherland Library to Kirrawee.
At the time of that decision, the council asked staff to prepare options for the use of the space in the South Village shopping centre, allocated by developer Payce as part of a voluntary planning agreement.
The space will be on the northern side of the central building, with glassed walls.
A council report has recommended subdividing the space into small shop lots, leasing them and using the income for existing community building services and reducing the infrastructure backlog.
The Services Committee considered the proposal on March 5 and decided to ask for further information on forecast rental and debt returns.
The 1500 square metre space, which will not be fitted out and does not have dedicated parking, will be handed over to the council in October this year when the shopping centre is due to open.
The report said the space could be subdivided for an estimated cost of $760,000.
The report said the community engagement survey undertaken by the council in November, 2017, revealed a lack of desire towards more community halls and a preference for the sale of some halls to meet other community needs.
Options for the new space included commercially leasing it, using it as a community facility, as a combined community and commercial leased facility, holding onto it and deferring a decision until the best use is known or selling it and applying the funds towards either the infrastructure backlog or current community building services.
“The analysis of options against community expectation and need, sound property portfolio management, consideration of council’s long term financial planning and the risks of each option, finds that subdividing and commercially leasing the space to be the most preferred option,” the report said.
It was recommended the transferred lot be subdivided into smaller shop lots and “leased to tenants whose businesses provide sound commercial returns and encourage community connections”.
The report also recommended the land be classified as “operational”, which would give the council future flexibility, including the option of selling it.
The proposal follows a controversial move last year, led by Liberal councillor Kent Johns, to move Sutherland Library to new and larger facilities in the Kirrawee development.
Payce had offered to build a 2500 square metre library, combining the allocated community space and removing a pond that was to be part of the new public park.
Cr Johns said at the time it was a “once in a lifetime opportunity”, but the council scrapped the plan following community opposition.
The council agreed to the pond being deleted to extend the park grounds and rejected an an alternative offer by Payce to buy all or part of the 1500 square metre community space.
The resolution directed staff to prepare an options paper on how the space will be used with the aim of it becoming a community hub for all sections of the community.
An allocation of $2.1 million was to be made in the 2017 / 2018 budget to set up the community hub.