Olympic figure skating dreams: Brianna Webster (front) in 2013 with fellow Norwest Figure Skating Club members. Picture: Carlos FurtadoTHE Hills Council has approved a plan that would see the demolition of Sydney Ice Arena, to make way for a 20-storey retail and residential unit complex in Norwest Business Park.
‘‘I’d like to see this ice skating retained but I’m not sure we have the right to tell the owner [Hillsong] what to do with their site,’’ Cr Ray Harty said.
The planning proposal for 11-13 Solent Circuit, Baulkham Hills, is for a mixed-use development with 240 dwellings and about 6000square metres of commercial floor space.
It includes a voluntary planning agreement to secure a financial contribution to local infrastructure, including the replacement of three Norwest Boulevarde roundabouts with traffic lights.
‘‘I’ll be voting to extend the life of the ice skating rink,’’ Cr Mike Thomas said.
Also voting against the motion, Cr Peter Gangemi said Norwest Boulevarde was the worst road in The Hills and already crossed several ‘‘grade F’’ intersections. Solent Circuit runs off Norwest Boulevarde.
Cr Alan Haselden also voted ‘no’.
Cr Robyn Preston said: ‘‘If you’re going to place high-rise, this is the place to do it. [It] is permissible within the zoning.’’
A council report said the state government’s North West Rail Link Structure Plan outlines a vision for future development around the rail station of up to 30 storeys.
‘‘This is lower,” Cr Ryan Tracey said.
Cr Ray Harty questioned whether they would be having this debate if there wasn’t an ice rink ‘‘to tug on the emotions’’.
The council received 63 individual submissions.
Concerns were raised over the loss of a recreational facility, including requests to relocate or retain the ice arena.
Harold O’Brien of Baulkham Hills told councillors last council meeting, ‘‘our children won’t have a place to skate or exercise’’.
He said local children, schools, as well as national and international athletes, skated and competed there.
Submissions also addressed concerns with the building height, over-development, the bulk and scale of the project, privacy/overshadowing, and traffic congestion.
Some called on the council to restrict the commercial uses to offices only.
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