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Proposal for 95 dwellings, including a five-storey building on old Bulli Bowling Club site, rejected by Council

A PROPOSAL to have the old Bulli Bowling Club site rezoned from private recreation to allow for almost 100 residential dwellings to be built has been labelled an “overdevelopment” and rejected by Wollongong City Council on Monday night.

Councillors unanimously rejected an application to rezone the site for a mixed-use development consisting of three, four, and five-storey buildings that would see 95 dwellings constructed on the site.

“I suggest the owners of this property look at what is permitted under the zoning,” Cr Janice Kershaw told Monday night’s meeting of Council.

The former Bulli Bowling Club site at the corner of Grevillea Park Road and the Princes Highway has an area of 8,301sqm and is located within the Bulli Showground and recreation precinct. The land was once part of Slacky Flat Park and was sold by Council to the Bulli Bowling Club in 1967.

Woonona Bulli RSL Club closed the club in 2013 after an amalgamation with the bowling club. The current owner purchased the site in 2016, and currently has an approval to use the site as an indoor recreational facility or gymnasium.

Wollongong Local Planning Panel (LLP) have twice rejected previous applications to have the site rezoned for residential purposes. The LLP have determined that the latest draft proposal represents an over development of the site within the context of the character of Bulli.

The old Bulli Bowling Club site. Picture: Google

Cr Kershaw said the owner of the site should look at suitable developments permissible under the current zoning.

“They (the owners of the site) should have been aware of what they can do under that zoning rather than putting forward proposals that are inappropriate or unacceptable,” Cr Kershaw said.

The report states that the site is within the Bulli Heritage Conservation Area, and the LPP advice to Council in August 2019 was that the height, size, density and configuration proposed had the potential to impact on the visual quality of the area, particularly the views of the Heritage Hotel, escarpment and ‘sense of arrival’ in Bulli.

“The proposed height and density sought is greater than the height and floor space ratio within Bulli town centre, despite this site being on the fringe. This would likely set a precedent, as other landowners would be able to argue that their properties within the town centre could have similar heights and densities.

“Wollongong Development Control Plan 2009 describes the desired future character for Bulli as retaining its relatively low density residential suburban character and generally be restricted to two stories in height. The proposed height and floor space ratio sought is not in keeping with the desired character of the precinct.”

The Council report states that the site is suitable for uses such as community facilities, centre-based child care facilities, entertainment facilities, restaurants, markets and recreation facilities, which are permitted within the existing RE2 zone and would complement the uses in the precinct.

“The site should be considered holistically as part of a wider plan for the area, undertaken by Council,” the report states.

“The former Bulli Bowling Club site has some development potential that may be considered in the future, however, this would best be achieved through a holistic study for the broader area, to work out the wider demands, type of development desired within the area and best suited to the site.

“There are other areas in the Wollongong local government area, close to public transport and commercial hubs that can accommodate additional development density under current planning controls while strategic studies are carried out. It is noted that there is a need for additional child care facilities within the locality, as position availability is extremely limited and likely to increase in demand with population growth. The site is well located and could be utilised for a child care facility under the current zoning provisions.”

The site is located within the Slacky Creek catchment, according to Council’s report, and has a medium flood risk. The proposal is supported by a flood study which indicates mitigation measures. However, Council rejected the mitigation measures, stating “there is insufficient justification to place future residents at risk”.

The Bulli Bowling Club suffered extensive damage during the 1998 floods.

A traffic study accompanied the initial proposal. It estimated that the proposal would have generated an additional 117 traffic movements in the AM peak hour, and 64 movements in the PM peak hour. The Study found that there would have been “increased queuing on the Princes Highway right turn into Grevillea Park Road” as a result of the development.


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of pubs, inns and associated industries in Australia for over 30 years. He is currently working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick has owned and managed several community newspapers. He was one time editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), Sydney based, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW. He currently calls the inner-Sydney suburb of Surry Hills home.

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