Balmain Bowlo to close?

Sydney’s oldest lawn bowls club in Balmain faces closure. The iconic Balmain Bowling Club may not reach its 150th milestone.

Balmain Bowling Club has revealed it is facing cripplingly high rates and maintenance costs, as it heads towards the 150th anniversary of the establishment in 2020.

The once popular pastime has collapsed in recent times, as 89 lawn bowls clubs have closed across NSW in the last ten years.

Closure has been forced by reduced membership numbers of an ageing population, and the space in the city that lawn bowls clubs occupy.

The zoning of the club in the middle of a former industrial area means it could pay rates of $65,000 to the Inner West Council. Many local councils across the state would prefer these well-placed and spacious areas to be occupied by housing or other community facilities.

Community members have argued that venues such as the bowling club, which carries rich local history, should be protected.

“That sort of history cannot be thrown out the back door,” said Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne.

He added that his council is offering the bowling club a number of options, including rezoning the land to prohibit development, a reduction in rates, or recompense through a grants scheme.

Byrne said lawn bowl clubs must be “future-proofed” and local councils must work more closely with clubs to repurpose them for the future, suggesting “a combination of live music, hospitality and a family friendly environment”.