Residents of Parkside Drive, Kogarah Bay claim they have been shut out of consultation over the construction of a new sports amenities block to be built opposite their homes.
The residents received a flyer in their letterboxes from Georges River Council dated February 15, and which arrived February 19 informing them that construction of a new inclusive sporting amenities buildings within Charles Pirie Reserve was to commence on Monday, March 4, 2019.
But none of the eight residents who live directly opposite the site received any prior notice of the development, said Neil and Sue Robinson who are representing their fellow Parkside Drive residents.
“We were not afforded our right as ratepayers and community members directly impacted by this development to comment during planning,” Sue said.
“We are angry at the council process. When we asked why we weren’t informed, the council stated the 2009 Plan of Management for the park basically served as notification of the development.
“This was the first we knew it was going to happen."
When they asked the council for an explanation, the Robinsons were informed in a letter by Georges River Council that the Plan of Management for Parkside Drive, adopted by the former Kogarah Council in 2009, provided the strategic direction for the planning and development of the site.
As part of the development of the Plan of Management more than 300 properties surrounding the park were letterbox dropped and surveys and interviews carried out, the council said.
As the current amenities block is in a flood-prone location, the Plan of Management included the future redevelopment of a new sports amenities building in a more appropriate location.
"Council officers have investigated a number of locations for the new amenities block. The most appropriate location was identified as being off Parkside Drive due to flood levels," the council said in a letter to the Robinsons.
"The council was not required to submit a development application for the works."
But Neil and Sue Robinson said it was unreasonable to say that a Plan of Management carried out ten years ago was an acceptable notification that development of the new amenities block was about to start opposite their homes.
“How can a Plan of Management that is ten years old serve as notice. It has no detail. There was no mention of a car park. They are not replacing like for like,” Sue said.
“The 2009 Plan of Management says to move the existing facility over to this side of the park.
“But this new facility is significantly larger, 55-metres long by eight-metres deep and in addition has a 16 space car park.
“There has never been mention of a car park. The final plans are larger than what was in the notification. All this is being done without a development application.”
Neil Robinson added, “These are details we thought we would have been consulted on. We just want council to talk to us, to come down and explain why the new building is going here. We feel there are other locations.
“We are pro this facility in some manner but let’s have a talk about it.”
Sue Robinson said the residents had three main concerns:
“Firstly, the notification process which has failed the residents, denying us the opportunity to be involved in the planning," she said.
“Secondly, the huge environmental impact this will have on our street and residents with the loss of this parkland space.
“Thirdly, we are very concerned about the management of this facility as regards traffic, noise, security and its operation.
“The council should follow the wording of the 2009 Plan of Management for the park which states its success 'will be greatly determined by the extent to which key stakeholders are aware of and able to effectively participate in the plan preparation process.'
“At least have the courtesy to come down and talk to us,” Sue said.
A Georges River Council spokesperson said extensive consultation was undertaken with sporting codes and clubs to develop a better standard of accessible amenities buildings for the local government area.
"The location of the new amenities building was determined by the current location of the services (water, sewer and power) and the need to build the structure out of the flood zone.
"In accordance with the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure) 2007, Council does not require a Development Application for the construction of the amenities buildings.
"The Plan of Management requires Council to provide two weeks’ notice to residents prior to commencement of works on the site and this has occurred.
"Resident concerns surrounding management of the facility are unwarranted, as there are no additional clubs using this facility. The traffic, noise and hours of operation will not change from what currently exists.
"The public amenities will all be fitted with a timer release gate which locks the block after a specified time."
Sue Robinson said residents had sought legal advice and were contemplating complaining to the Ombudsman.
"Because of this we have been told that any future consultation with the council is to be through its legal team," she said.
"It is a big financial cost for residents to challenge any council decision," she said.
"But they are going to use ratepayers' money to fight us. It's just unfair. I don't know who they are working for."