Decision made on future of music, food events at bowlo
BALLINA Shire Council hasn't stopped the music and street food at Club Lennox.
In a unanimous decision, council at the September 26 meeting gave the nod to Club Lennox putting in Development Applications for the Sundays on the Green events and the Craft Beer and Food Truck Festival, rather then shutting them down based on the lease conditions.
In welcoming council's decision, the club's general manager, Glen Lloyd, said the club still had to get Events on Public Land approval, with an application already lodged, before the Sundays on the Green entertainment can continue.
The deal is, on approval of the event, the barefoot bowls and music, with outdoor seating on the greens, will be held on the first, third and fifth Sunday's of the month until a Development Application is finalised.
That event, along with the biannual Craft Beer and Street Food Festival, were at risk when residents, who had complained about noise and traffic, questioned if the lease arrangements the club has with council to "use the premises only for the purpose of a bowls and sports club" allowed those events to go ahead in the first place.
Several councillors criticised club management for not lodging any applications for the events.
Mr Lloyd, who has been in the job for about 12 months, said he had sought advice from other bowling clubs in the region about similar events they hold, and found other clubs held these kinds of events without Development Applications, though he conceded every club has different lease arrangements.
Speaking on behalf of Club Lennox, solicitor Annabelle Braly from S&P Lawyers, said the popularity of lawn bowls was in decline Australia-wide and "relying on revenue from bowling is no longer a sustainable business model".
She also noted Liquor and Gaming NSW had received three complaints -- "the bare minimum needed" -- about noise from Club Lennox, though the council debate focused on the need for council consent.
The Ballina RSL Bowling Club shut its doors recently, with the club's board saying it was no longer financially viable.
Mr Lloyd said Club Lennox had achieved in the past 12 months in excess of a $100,000 turnaround from a $70,000 loss in 2017/2018.
"The only thing that has changed has been these two events," he said, though he said the Sundays on the Green was an existing event which was rebranded.
The Lennox club has already closed its doors once before in the 60 years the licence has been held, only reopening in 2013 following a significant community effort to raise $184,000.
Now, the club has 2200 members and employs 30 staff, as well as having 17 affiliate clubs.
Cr Keith Williams, in supporting the move to allow the bowling club to now make a formal application for the outdoor events after the fact, said it also was about saving live music.
"I don't want us to lose another (live music) venue in Lennox," he said.
Cr Ben Smith said the move by council struck a right balance in that the DA process would allow any necessary constraints to be put in place.
An amendment was moved by Cr Phil Meehan, and supported by Cr Sharon Parry, to restrict the Sundays on the Green to once a month prior to a development application being approved to acknowledge the concerns of residents.
That was met with jeers from the public gallery, filled with Club Lennox members, and was not passed by council.