The future of the former Cessnock City Bowling Club site has become clearer – and it’s unlikely to contain a major fast food outlet.
Cessnock Council will ask the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to change the zoning at the Aberdare site to allow a greater range of development on the land.
The site is currently zoned for private recreational use only.
Council believes the zoning should be changed to B1 Neighbourhood Centre, which would allow developments such as accommodation, business premises, a cafe, houses, shops or a medical centre.
A motion to change the zoning at the March 15 council meeting was not supported by the majority of councillors.
But Crs Bob Pynsent, Di Fitzgibbon and Rod Doherty moved to reverse that decision at the April 6 meeting.
Their new motion had an additional requirement - to restrict the floor space of any cafe or restaurant development to 150 square metres.
That would rule out a major fast food development, such as the KFC that was proposed for the site in 2014.
Council papers show the landowner took his KFC proposal off the table last July.
Cr Fitzgibbon said the site sat as “an ugly wart on the edge of town” since the bowling club burned down in 2010.
She said council did not want to buy the land.
“Council already takes care of 126 parks, playgrounds and sports fields,” Cr Fitzgibbon said.
“If we waste money on land that we don’t need then how do we address other issues?”
Cr Fitzgibbon said restricting the area to recreational use stood in the way of jobs and progress.
“It sends a bad message to people who are willing to invest in the city,” she said.
Cr Pynsent said keeping the site as recreational only “sterilised the land”.
Cr Doherty pointed out that if the building had not burned down in 2010 it would still be operating as a licensed premises.
Meanwhile, Cr Allan Stapleford said that council did not buy the land, so it should not put any development restrictions on the owner.
But Cr Ian Olsen did not want the zoning changed.
He said it was always council’s intention to keep that part of town as a sporting precinct.
Cr Olsen said he didn’t see why there needed to be any development on the site.
“The residents don’t want it, the schools don’t want it, the sporting organisations don’t want it,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to end up with up there.”