What does a developer do when the land they want to build on is a golf course? Move the entire 18-hole course.
That is what is being proposed at Cook Cove in Botany, where developers want to relocate the Kogarah Golf Course to the other side of the M5 motorway.
The proposal, estimated to cost $100 million, is being spearheaded by the privately owned Kogarah Golf Club, which has been wanting to relocate south for more than a decade in a bid to secure its future.
But after several thwarted planning attempts, the club is now closer than ever to securing the move, after its development partner, John Boyd Properties, submitted a development application to the new Bayside Council in mid-November.
The golf club's relocation is the first stage of the redevelopment of the Cook Cove area, which spans 100 hectares from Marsh Street, Arncliffe and the Cooks River in the north, to Bestic Street, Rockdale in the south. It is divided into two precincts by the M5 tunnel.
The relocation of the golf course will pave the way for developers to transform the northern precinct, which has been identified by the Department of Planning as having potential for 5000 new homes, into a sprawling mixed-use development featuring a new FIFA-approved St George Stadium.
While the proposal for the northern precinct is still in early planning stages, the golf course relocation has heightened concerns among local community groups about the broader long-term vision for the entire Cook Cove area.
Peter Munro from the Cooks River Valley Association said there were two key issues: the impact of development on local species, and the alienation of public land.
"It's such a fragile area," he said. "Botany Bay and its environs contain some of the most important natural but threatened sites on the NSW coast, made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Bay is one of the more developed landscapes in Sydney.
"Also once it becomes a golf course, there's no broad community access. It's closed to the public."
For the $100 million price tag, developer Cook Cove Inlet Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of John Boyd Properties, will reconstruct the 18-hole course across 52 hectares of parkland in the southern precinct of the Cook Cove site, which takes in Barton Park, a number of wetlands, and the heritage-listed Arncliffe Market Gardens.
The developers have also promised to deliver a publicly accessible walkway through the golf course, a bird-watching space near the Landing Lights Wetlands and the creation of ponds for the green and golden bell frogs, which are native to the area.
"The southern precinct of Cook Cove is contaminated and requires remediation before the golf course can be relocated," a spokesman for the developer said via a statement.
"By remediating the southern precinct including the Landing Lights Wetland and surrounding saltmarsh and mangroves, the project will improve and create new habitats for endangered green and golden bell frogs and migratory wading birds, and help to prevent further contamination leaching into the Cooks River."
The spokesman said the Spring Street Wetland, which has been formed artificially over landfill, will be removed as part of the proposal "due its limited ecological value".
A new clubhouse, featuring a 200-person function room and a members lounge, will also be built near the dilapidated St George Stadium, which will be demolished as part of the project.
The Kogarah Golf Club declined to speak with Fairfax Media, but in a report released to its members last year the club outlined the main motivation for the move.
"The most significant issue for the club remains a lack of security of tenure for the land comprising the golf course as we know it."
Under the proposed arrangements for the new course, the club is seeking a 99-year lease of the land from the Bayside Council, rather than the mix of local and state government authorities they presently have to negotiate with.
In 2015, the course was reduced to 9 holes due to the construction of the new M5 twin tunnels as part of the WestConnex motorway project, and the fourth hole remains the site of a ventilation stack for the tunnels.
The club was also concerned about the lack of control it has over other parts of the course, which are owned by the Bayside Council, as well as land around the 6th green, 7th tee, 8th tee and 13th green, which it rents from Sydney Airport on a monthly basis.
Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.