WOOLLAHRA Council has deferred any action on a new heritage report for White City for three months to allow the Hakoah board time to work through the issues.
Hakoah unveiled its vision for a community sporting, cultural and recreation centre on the site at its annual general meeting in March. It had previously negotiated with the Council that just three items – the grandstand trusses, arches and front gates – would be retained in the site’s redevelopment.
However the new heritage report, conducted at the request of the Department of Planning by heritage consultant Paul Davies, has recommended the entire site be heritage listed.
The Council voted 5-3 at its meeting on June 22 to defer a planning proposal to list the site as a heritage item.
Hakoah president George Farkas said both the board and the Council felt the deferral was needed.
“It is the Hakoah board’s intention to work together with Council, on what is a complex issue, to reach a mutually agreeable solution that recognises heritage elements, whilst also satisfying the needs of both members and the wider community to achieve the vision of a community sporting, social, recreational and cultural centre,” he said.
He said a report in last week’s Wentworth Courier, stating that the State Government had rejected the Council’s attempts to list just the three heritage items, was incorrect.
“The original resolution was to list the [whole] site but specify only three items to be retained or adapted,” he said.
“The Department said you can’t list the whole site but specify particular items … either list the whole of White City or just the three.”
He said the new report was required as part of this process, but added: “This report does not have the force of law.
“It is simply a report to be considered by Council, and we say in conjunction with other heritage opinions.”
He also rejected the new report’s conclusion that the whole site should be heritage listed.
“That heritage report is inconsistent with all the previous resolutions of Council, reached after lengthy negotiations between the [Hakoah] board and Council, based on previous heritage reports,” he said.
“The outcome of those resolutions was embodied in a draft Planning Proposal and draft Development Control Plan due to be put on public exhibition by Council.”
He said the report also contradicted the conclusions of Hakoah’s “well respected” heritage consultant, Stephen Davies, who is a former deputy director and head of the National Trust of Australia NSW and Victoria and board member of the Heritage Council of NSW, and another heritage consultant who had previously addressed Council.
“It is also arguably inconsistent with the NSW Department of Planning’s stance in relation to White City,” he added.
A condition of a peace deal brokered by Frank Lowy in March between the board and a rival ticket was that a certain amount of progress had to be made by the end of this year. Farkas suggested this process was still on track.
“The board’s development committee, co-chaired by Allen Linz and Phil Wolanski, is currently considering a DA and together with the board, working through the issues within the projected timetable,” he said.
“Steven Lowy is actively involved in the work of that committee.”