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Derelict Hall Is No Crowning Glory

By Duncan Horscroft on June 12, 2014 in News

Photo: Dan Hutton

Photo: Dan Hutton

It seems Waverley Council isn’t being a very good scout when it comes to providing extra art facilities within the municipality.

The matter in question is a derelict scout hall at Queens Park, which has not been used for more than seven years.
Waverley Woollahra Art School board member Bill Ives has been lobbying to acquire the building with the intention of using it as an annex for the existing art school in Bondi Road, which receives sponsorship from both Waverley and Woollahra Councils.

One of the main problems is that the hall is on Crown Land, of which Waverley Council are caretakers, and that the lease on the property is held by Scouts Association NSW, who have lodged a DA to have the building demolished.

There is also a claim by the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council on the land.

“I have been in contact with the Crown Lands department and submitted a five-page document outlining our proposal as well as sitting down with Waverley Council to discuss the situation,” Mr Ives said.

“But it has all fallen on deaf ears with Waverley Council passing a motion to have the building demolished. When I approached Mayor Sally Betts she just said ‘no way’ to my proposal and that was the end of the conversation.

“The stupid thing is that the cost of demolishing the building – around $20,000 – would have to be paid by the Scouts, who haven’t got the money to do it, and Waverley Council would have to pay for the work from ratepayers’ money.

“The Waverley Woollahra Art School is prepared to pay for the renovation. The roof of the building is solid, but there needs to be a lot of work done on the inside, which we are prepared to do.”

Mr Ives said there was “full support” from the Greens and Labor councillors and that the Greens had put forward a proposal that was knocked back by the Liberal councillors.

“Crown Lands is entitled to pass the lease on to us, but Waverley Council has to approve it and they have made it clear that won’t be happening,” he said.

“The hall will provide much needed work space for artists in this community as identified in Waverley Council’s Art Policy, so why is Council so against it? I have also been in touch with the Aboriginal Land Council telling them that we would encourage Aboriginal artists to use the facility, but, as yet, they have not replied.”

There has been a lot of opposition to the art school’s proposal from local residents who say that the hall is being used as a drug den. Vandalism is also a major issue that is hard to police because of the hall’s isolated location, and the proximity of the hall to a playground is also of concern because of safety issues associated with the derelict building.