Council changes tune over Gleniffer Brae

A computer-generated architect's image of the university creative arts centre (at left) proposed for Gleniffer Brae.
A computer-generated architect's image of the university creative arts centre (at left) proposed for Gleniffer Brae.

Modified plans for a contentious $30 million redevelopment of Keiraville's historic Gleniffer Brae precinct will go before Wollongong City Council tonight.

The University of Wollongong's proposal has divided the community, attracting hundreds of submissions, dozens of letters, and even two petitions - one for and one against the plan.

UOW wants to lease the heritage-listed manor for up to 30 years, refurbish and use it as a function centre, plus buy an adjoining 1.2 hectares of land with old school buildings, demolish them and construct a new two- to three-storey creative arts hub.

A draft planning proposal was put on public exhibition earlier this year and three community information sessions and a public hearing were held.

As a result of the vast amount of feedback on the plan, the original proposal has now been modified.

Only the Creative Arts Centre site, and not Gleniffer Brae house, will be reclassified as operational land.

The house will remain community land, and under the classification long-term leases can not be longer than 30 years.

"It would allow the use of a function centre and education establishment to proceed ... while still being under the ownership of council," the report says.

But those opposing the proposal say the modification addresses just one of a raft of concerns about the redevelopment.

Gleniffer Brae Community Support Group convener Bess Moylan will attend tonight's council meeting and said the proposal would allow for a "massively oversized" building on the former school site and lead to more parking and traffic pressures in an area already beleaguered by traffic woes.

She said a Creative Arts Hub would best serve the Illawarra by being located in Wollongong's CBD and leaving the Conservatorium of Music in the suburbs would be a "missed opportunity".

However, supporters of the plan argue the development would breathe new life into the area and secure a future for treasured community assets.

The report describes the proposed Creative Arts Centre as "crucial to the delivery of long-term conservation outcomes for Gleniffer Brae, while continuing the historic educational use, maintaining the Conservatorium of Music on site and creating investment opportunities in Wollongong."

The planning proposal will be debated at tonight's Wollongong City Council meeting.


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