CLUB EXPANSION: Local bowler Noel Ahern is feeling positive about the expansion to the Sandhills Sports Club in Bargara. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
CLUB EXPANSION: Local bowler Noel Ahern is feeling positive about the expansion to the Sandhills Sports Club in Bargara. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

Bargara club to increase pokies

A DEVELOPMENT application to expand the Sandhills Sports Club has been lodged with the Bundaberg Regional Council leaving the community with mixed emotions.

The NewsMail spoke to residents in neighbouring houses after a community member raised concerns about the business saying it would affect the beachside community.

Most residents said the new expansion - which would see the building almost double in size from 743sm to 1405sm - would be a welcome benefit.

Jackie Quinlan who lives across from the club - formally the Bargara Bowls Club - said change and progress was inevitable and people shouldn't try to stop it.

"I don't think anything like this will spoil Bargara - if anything it will enhance it," she said.

"The road is busy as it is and I don't believe it will get worse if they expand."

But not all residents see the development as good news especially after it was approved to increase its gaming machines from 26 to 80.

Bargara resident and town planner Shane Booth said he believed the proposal failed to comply with planning scheme regulations and as a resident he was directly affected by the clubs impacts.

"The extensions will decrease home values and negatively affect the amenity and character of what is predominantly a low residential area," Mr Booth said.

"The RSL now control the club and are no longer interested in being a bowls club instead opting to become a gambling business; the entire extension is to accommodate pokie machines and pray on those already susceptible to the addiction of gambling.

"In fact, the club has begun buying adjoining properties indicating that these extensions are only the beginning."

Anne Brown's yard backed onto the land which was also said to be bought by the RSL and while she didn't have a problem with the clubs expansion she said she had concerns about a supposed car park going in opposite the club.

"It's worrying to us owners that the RSL bought the land behind us and rumour is it will be turned into a car park which will devalue our unit," Mrs Brown said.

Croft St resident Noel Ahern said he supported the expansion and since the RSL bought the club it had more appeal.

"I was an original member 25 years ago, I play there once a week and I believe it will be good for tourism," Mr Ahern said.

Mr Booth said he believed the entire proposal had been conducted in a stealth manner and also raised safety concerns after a cyclist was killed in a crash outside the club earlier this year.

"The proposed parking configuration across the footpath in conjunction with the orientation of stop signs in Grimwood and Tanner St is sure to create safety issues, not to mention the shortfall in close to 80 carparks meaning residential frontages will be used for parking," he said.

"The club has had no regard for noise attenuation since being taken over by the RSL, this poor management is sure to continue, as the club will run longer hours to support the gambling business."

RSL manager Col Rankin said the licensing for the extra gaming machines had been approved and if anyone had concerns they should have lodged it with the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation at that time.

"No concerns were raised so there are no concerns," Mr Rankin said.



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