North Ryde RSL Club townhouse plans draw criticism

North Ryde Returned and Services League Club has asked for 132 townhouses to be built on three playing fields it owns, a decision which has angered the town of Ryde.

The RSL club, together with the Eastwood Rugby Club, want the council to rezone the area around the TG Millner sports ground in Marsfield as R2 low-density residential, which would allow them to build apartments in what would be a 100million development of dollars.

The application is still before Ryde’s planning department, but at a meeting late last month the city said it would take ‘the necessary steps to secure TG Millner Fields as an open green space’ .

A website outlining the proposal shows the development would include two-story houses on current playing fields, with new roads, open public space and a sports field that could be used for basketball.

The three playing grounds date back to 1954 when the ground was acquired on Vimiera Road for Eastwood Rugby Club. More land was added in 1967, bringing the site to around seven hectares.

Today North Ryde RSL Club, who bought the site from the rugby club in 2017, say they need the redevelopment because high running costs and low revenue have created an ‘unsustainable drain on club resources’ .

The change of use is made possible by Eastwood Rugby Club’s planned move to a new sports center 8 miles away in Castle Hill.

“North Ryde RSL Club and Eastwood Rugby have gone to great financial lengths to keep TG Millner Field alive with Eastwood Rugby in financial difficulty for over 20 years and the (RSL Club) investing significant funds since 2000 to keep the fields alive. flow,” the proposal says.

▲ The RSL wants to turn the three playgrounds into townhouses.

The club points out that demand for rugby facilities in Marsfield has declined in part due to local demographics in the area, with 68% of residents having “ancestry from countries where the sport of rugby does not register on the radar “.

The RSL claims the site has reached the end of its life in terms of rugby club and licensing uses.

But Ryde Mayor Jordan Lane said the town was ready to discuss future plans for the area with the RSL, “the council’s position is that we need to preserve open space”.

“Over the past three or four years, the council has exceeded its housing target by 43%. There are chronic issues with social infrastructure, open space being one of them, if not the number one priority,” Lane said.

“It is unacceptable by any measure to have, effectively, three large open playing fields converted into accommodation.

“Obviously, we remain open to negotiating outcomes that are more appropriate for the community, namely those exploring alternative sites or funding solutions, while preserving much-needed open space.”

The combination of long and short-term trends in the hospitality and club sector, coupled with the effects of Covid-19 closures, have made RSLs and other community clubs an attractive target for developers in recent years , with the number and scale of projects accelerating.

North Ryde’s rezoning application is still in the assessment phase, with a decision expected by mid-September.

North Ryde RSL and Eastwood Rugby Club have both been approached for comment.

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