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Council Set To Cause Racket Over Tennis Court Decision

By Marcus Braid on September 9, 2015 in News

Photo: Daniel Hutton

Photo: Daniel Hutton

Waverley Council has outlined the possibility of compulsory acquisition of Bondi’s Maccabi Tennis Centre after the State Government controversially rezoned the courts.

The Department of Planning’s decision to rezone privately owned tennis courts on Wellington Street from RE2 Private Recreation to R3 Medium Density has been met with dismay by the council.

“Open space is vitally important to our residents, which is why we will continue to fight to keep the land for that purpose,” Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said.

“We had already met with the applicants to discuss Council purchasing the property and may now have to consider our own rezoning application and compulsory acquisition.”

The Wellington Street courts closed in July last year after the Sydney East Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) recommended that the Maccabi Tennis Club be rezoned to a R3 medium density residential site with 42 apartments and 49 new parking spaces.

105 Wellington Street has been enjoyed as open space for over 100 years and tennis has been played there for decades.

“This is a slap in the face for Waverley and our residents, as their views have been completely ignored,” Cr Betts said. “The decision also flies in the face of the rhetoric from the Planning Minister about returning planning powers to councils.

“Waverley is the most densely populated municipality in Australia. We don’t need more high-density housing and we are really disappointed the rezoning has been approved, particularly after the many years of fighting it.”

Cr Betts pointed to the process taken by the planning department in rejecting the development application (DA) for Bronte RSL.

“Only recently, the Bronte RSL DA was rejected by the State Government because Waverley had met its housing targets,” Cr Betts said. “Therefore, it stands to reason that 105 Wellington Street is not required to contribute additional housing stock. The rezoning decision by the Department of Planning has no merit and makes no sense.

“I have personally written to two past ministers and the current one on several occasions, requesting the planning proposal be denied and Waverley’s lack of open space and recreational facilities be considered as part of the decision-making process.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Planning and Environment said that the decision was consistent with planning rules for the surrounding area.

“The Department of Planning and Environment supported the merits of the planning proposal because the site is close to transport and services, and it is an efficient use of existing local infrastructure,” the spokesperson said.

“This decision allows Waverley Council and the proponent to work together, including on how community facilities in the Waverley area can be improved.”

At this stage the planning proposal does not allow any development on the site.

“Before any development could occur, a development application would need to be lodged with Waverley Council and exhibited for public feedback,” the spokesperson said.

The planning proposal was exhibited for public feedback by Council from October 8 to November 5 last year.

Moves to overturn the decision have been headed by Rescue Bondi. The local community group who is adamant the rezoning decision displays scant regard for the community’s interests.