Uproar over Sydney Grammar’s $54m sports facility2nd January 2021
There was a “lack of safe and suitable facilities in the inner-city area for school-aged children to train and compete” in increasingly popular sports such as basketball and water polo, she said.
The project includes demolition of a small pavilion and tennis courts at the southern end of the site, and construction of a new three- to four-storey building housing a 25-metre swimming pool, multipurpose hall and spaces for cardio and weights training, taekwondo and fencing.
A state significant development, the school described the new sporting facilities as “a polite addition to the site and its context” in documents lodged with the Planning Department.
Sydney Grammar’s spokeswoman said the bulk and scale of the sporting complex was consistent with surrounding buildings, while two new trees will be planted for every tree removed.
A new 102-space carpark would alleviate congestion on local streets by accommodating traffic queues during the morning and afternoon pickup and drop off periods as well as catering for increased traffic on Saturdays generated by the new sports facilities.
But Cr Price said the proposal would have a “devastating” and “severe” impact on views enjoyed by neighbouring residents, including public housing tenants.
“Previously uninterrupted views to green open space, trees and an attractive outlook to Rushcutters Bay and beyond will now be dominated by an intrusive and bulky development,” she said.
The school spokeswoman said significant changes had been made to the proposal following consultation with nearby residents, including reducing the overall size of the building and planting more trees, to improve visual impact as well as preserve solar access and privacy of neighbours.
Alex Greenwich, the independent member for Sydney, said the proposed development was “inappropriately located directly adjacent to homes” and created “unacceptable impacts” on residents.
“The school has not adequately demonstrated why alternative and less imposing locations were not selected and more work is needed to protect neighbours’ quality of life,” he said.
Mr Greenwich said residents were concerned the new building would lead to a “massive loss” of light and brightness inside their homes, making them darker and more prone to damp.
His concerns were echoed by The Paddington Society, which said in its submission the height and bulk of the project was excessive and would have a significant impact on the amenity of nearby residents.
“This proposal provides little public benefit while having a significant number of detrimental effects on the neighbouring area in terms of the loss of views and outlook, overshadowing, increasing traffic movements, greatly increased car parking and loss of amenity,” it said.
Mr Greenwich also questioned the social benefits of the new sports complex given it was unclear if other schools and the public would be permitted to use the facilities.
However, the school spokeswoman said Sydney Grammar was “keen to explore options” for local schools such as Glenmore Road Public School to use the new facilities given the lack of swimming pools and basketball and volleyball courts in the local area.
“Sydney Grammar is keen to speak to other community groups who might be interested in using the facility to better understand how this can be facilitated,” she said.
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Andrew Taylor is a Senior Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.