MORE than 100 soccer players who packed into Stirling council chambers were on the edge of their seats while councillors debated the approval of their grandstand.
The application caused controversy at last week’s meeting, with councillors voting to hold the item over until the next meeting.
Gwelup Croatia Soccer Club president Jure Denona said the club, in operation since 1988, needed a grandstand to quality for the National Premier League (NPL).
“According to Football West regulations, if you end up in the NPL which is the top league, you need a grandstand for 250 people,” he said.
“Last year we won the amateur league but there wasn’t room for promotion for amateur to premier.
“If we win the league we will go automatically to the premier division.”
Councillor Samantha Jenkinson said the item had been difficult to grapple with because the club was in a residential area.
“Because this is a private institution in a residential area there is scope for a potential clash,” he said.
“The applicant has addressed parking and traffic issues. This will be of great benefit to club members; I am happy to support it.”
A Gwelup resident addressed the council and raised concerns about noise and the use of flares and drums at home games.
Mr Denona said opposition teams were behind the noise.
Architect Michael Dryka said the concerns were not on planning grounds and were therefore not valid to the application.
“Holding this item over was a kneejerk reaction from the councillors who didn’t have any idea of town planning requirements,” he said.
“The objections were not of a planning nature.
“ There were only about four or five complaints that were of a planning nature, all of which have been addressed.”
There were 29 submissions received with 93 per cent opposed to the project.
Mr Denona said he regularly liaised with residents who did not voice concerns to him.
“We own the land, we have done everything by the regulations of the shire,” he said.
“The club was there before anyone built a house there and coming here, people knew what to expect.
“Why punish the club because people move where the grounds are?”
Cr Rod Willox said he was glad he did not live in the area and was concerned about the grandstand towering over adjacent houses.
“And I can say I’m glad I don’t live there. I wouldn’t like it if a grandstand was built three metres from my back fence,” he said.
“Soccer is a great game, which I support, and it does serve a good community purpose but on planning grounds it does not stack up.
“Most of the players at the club wouldn’t live in the vicinity but it is the people who do who will have to live with it.”
Cr Mark Irwin said the item should be held over because it was the council’s only chance to “get it right”.
“I’m all for a grandstand at the club; it is a wonderful thing,” he said.
“What concerns me is the materials of the wall are not determined; we need to make sure it isn’t a concrete wall.”