Northern Illawarra residents have banded together to protest the planned “over-development” of the beloved Scarborough-Wombarra Bowling Club.
The clubhouse and its two ocean-view bowls greens would be replaced with a 108-bed aged care home under plans put forward by Estia Health.
After years of financial turmoil, club directors sold the 7044-square metre Lawrence Hargrave Drive site to Kenna Investments Pty Ltd - part of the Kennedy Health Care Group - for $1.87 million in September 2012.
Last year Kennedy Health Care was acquired by Estia Health, which has since discussed preliminary plans with Wollongong City Council, in a likely prelude to a development application.
The plans show an underground parking level and a ground floor with laundry, library, kitchen, ‘wellness’, salon and multi-purpose room facilities. There is also a kitchen and a club at ground level, complete with toilets, outdoor space, kitchen, gambling area and an three outdoor bowls rinks on the site’s southern boundary.
There are 108 beds within residential rooms on levels one and two. Amenities on the roof raise the building profile above this.
Julie Read’s home overlooks the 56-year-old club. Though she doesn’t expect the expansion to interfere with her ocean view, she worries about the effects the proposed development would have on Wombarra.
“It’s a huge development,” Ms Read, founder of the Scarborough Wombarra Action Group, told the Mercury. “Coledale hospital is quite a large organisation, and that’s only got 38 beds, so this thing is going to dominate the landscape of what at the moment is quiet a small village on a two-lane winding mountain road.”
Miners pooled funds to buy the land and the club opened in 1960. Ms Read said the suburb was losing a prized meeting spot. She said the developer’s incorporation of a smaller bowls facility, and a clubhouse would be no substitute.
“The loss of the club is a tragedy because it’s one of the few old-style clubs in the area and it’s the only place that the people of Wombarra have as a general meeting place, so it’s been a really integral part of the social fabric,” she said. “I’m not sure how many people are going to be keen to go into a nursing home to go to a bowling club. The two things are not compatible in my mind.”
Ms Read said she established a website – swagbowlo.weebly.com – setting out the plans in the hope residents opposed to the development would be informed come public exhibition time.