Oatley Bowling Club site to remain as open space

After years of controversy and bitter community debate, the Oatley Bowling Club site has been guaranteed to remain as open space.

Georges River Council will not proceed with the current planning proposal to rezone half the site to allow five storeys of seniors’ housing.

Instead, the council will prepare a new master plan for the site to guarantee its future use as open space and recreation.

Immediate steps will commence to decontaminate the site removing asbestos to enable its remediation for the purpose of allowing access.

Georges River Council mayor Kevin Greene made the shock announcement in a Mayoral Minute at last night’s council meeting ending years of community division over the future role of the site.

Councillor Greene said the provision of open space for the site was more critical and central to the council’s role rather than providing aged care which was the role of the private sector.

The future of the bowling club site has been debated since 2006.

There are three significant resolutions of council that have determined the direction that originally Hurstville Council, and more recently Georges River Council, have pursued.

Myles Dunphy, who is often called the Father of Australian Conservation. Picture: Fairfax Media

Myles Dunphy, who is often called the Father of Australian Conservation. Picture: Fairfax Media

The fight to retain the bowling club site as open space has been spearheaded by a long and energetic campaign by the Oatley Flora and Fauna Society.

The community said the bowling site was part of Myles Dunphy Reserve, while the council maintained it was adjacent to the reserve.

Residents quoted Hurstville Council’s lawyers confirming in 2010 that ‘‘the reserve comprises an area of bushland, a scout hall and the site of the former Oatley Bowling Club’’.  

The most recent resolution, made while the council was under administration, was to only rezone 50 per cent of the site for seniors housing (nursing home) and community facilities.

In November 2016, Georges River Council decided to proceed with a proposal to reclassify the site from community land to operational and to rezone part of the the site to SP2 Infrastructure for use of seniors housing and community facilities.

This revised Planning Proposal was forwarded to the NSW Department of Planning in 2017 for Gateway determination.

But Cr Greene said that the council’s draft Open Space Space, Recreation and Community Facilities Strategy, which is now on public exhibition, identified multiple shortfalls in the current supply of open space and sport and recreation facilities across the Georges River area.  

“A shortfall of 7.6 hectares (or 76,000 square metres) to support current and future recreational and sporting uses has been identified,” Cr Greene said.

“The current Planning Proposal for the former Oatley Bowling Club attempts to address an identified community demand for the provision of sites within the city for aged care and seniors housing.

“While this is an important consideration for council, aged care and seniors housing are facilities that can also be provided by the private sector.  

“The council should aim to identify and facilitate sites for such uses wherever possible.  

“However, I also consider that the provision of council-owned sites for aged care and seniors housing should not occur at the expense of our open space and recreational facilities.

“The provision of open space and sporting facilities for the public is, in my view, a more critical priority for Council as they are rarely provided to any large extent by the private sector.  

“It is traditionally the role of the public sector (government) to provide open space and recreational facilities to service the needs of the population.”

Cr Greene said the council would not proceed with the current Planning Proposal for the site.

“Instead, the whole of the the site should retain its open space zoning and council should explore opportunities to address the shortfall in recreational facilities at the Oatley Bowling Club site.”

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