In the first half of 2020, YMCA corporate administration was relocated from the Yarralumla Bay premises, which is now called the YMCA Aquatic Recreation Centre, and this concluded the matter.
The lease purpose clause for Block 1 Section 18 Yarralumla (35 Alexandrina Drive) limits both the number of administration staff that can be at this site to 10 and requires that they be only associated with the aquatic recreation facility. Under the lease the site cannot be used as corporate headquarters or administration of other business operations.
On 27 August 2012 Mr Ben Ponton Delegate of the ACT Planning and Land Authority, Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate approved, subject to conditions, the proposal for the variation of the Crown lease for Block 1 Section 18 Yarralumla (35 Alexandrina Drive) to permit aquatic recreation facility and associated administrative use. The Notice of Decision approved amended provisions for Clause 4(a)(i) and (ii) and Clause 1(k)
The above variation of the lease purpose clause broadened its scope of permitted activities from those of the YMCA Sailing Club to aquatic recreation and applied a cap to administrative personnel on site. In all other aspects the lease purpose clause remains the same as that considered by ACAT in 2011. The ACAT Decision of 11 November 2011 was that the YMCA’s Corporate Headquarters and its administrative functions are not ancillary nor a necessary adjunct to the primary purpose and do not comply with those permitted by the lease purpose clause.
Paragraph 36 in the conclusion states: “The Tribunal considers that the scale and character of the function to be carried out by the YMCA management team should not be considered to be an ancillary use. The function of the YMCA management team is primarily focussed on unrelated activities elsewhere and the fact that a small proportion of its time relates to the sailing club does not make the totality an ancillary use. The proposed use does not derive from the use of a sailing club, as permitted by the lease, it is not a necessary adjunct and the scale of its occupation is disproportionate to the principal use.”
In 2004 the YMCA was issued with a lease covering the YMCA Sailing Club at Yarralumla Bay. The lease purpose clause allowed the building to be used only for the purpose of a club house for occupation exclusively by the YMCA Sailing Club as its base for sailing operations on the adjacent Lake.
In 2009 the YMCA converted the upper floor of the Sailing Club into offices. In March 2011 ACTPLA issued a Controlled Activity Order directing the YMCA not to allow the building to be occupied by people undertaking activities that were not exclusively the activities of the YMCA Sailing Club. The YMCA took the matter to ACAT for a review. The matter was heard in ACAT in October 2011. The YRA was a party supporting ACTPLA in its decision.
YRA’s concern stems from the community’s wish to see the use of Yarralumla Bay restricted to aquatic recreation and low key tourist facilities rather than corporate headquarters. Such a wish is reflected in the National Capital Plan and in the community consultation that resulted in the development of the Yarralumla Bay Recreation Hub Master Plan in 2009.
We are also concerned about the precedent that such breaches can set. YRA is aware of at least one organisation at Yarralumla Bay that was keen to establish corporate offices at their aquatic facility when it saw the YMCA breaching its lease.
On 11 November 2011 ACAT ordered: That the [YMCA] comply with the provisions … of its lease …by … not using the premises for the purpose of the head office or the general administrative functions of the Association.
In June 2012 the YMCA submitted an application to change the lease purpose clause to allow a community facility. A community facility would allow office use. YRA opposed the application.
ACTPLA refused to allow a community facility but did agree to broaden the lease purpose clause to permit an aquatic recreational facility and associated administration subject to a maximum of 10 administrative staff to ensure that the administration use on the site is limited only to those persons required for the administration of the aquatic recreational facility.
In August 2013 YRA lodged a Controlled Activity Complaint that the building was being used as the corporate headquarters by the YMCA contrary to its lease purpose clause.
Despite regular follow-ups by YRA no action was taken by Access Canberra to ensure compliance by the YMCA with the provisions of its lease.
Finally in April 2017, Access Canberra advised that the YMCA had been told that that all business activities not relating to aquatic activities must have ceased by 31 December 2017. In December 2017, just before the deadline, Access Canberra then granted a further 12 month extension until December 2018.
In February 2018 Minister Gordon Ramsay, in response to a Question on Notice from Elizabeth Lee MLA, acknowledged that the YMCA was in breach of its lease and that the Government would consider any other enforcement action under the Planning and development Act if YMCA did not comply with its lease by 31 December 2018.
In September 2018 Minister Ramsay advised Elizabeth Lee that the YMCA had advised that that staff who do not provide administration associated with the aquatic recreation facility will not be located at Yarralumla and that Access Canberra will work with YMCA to ensure compliance by 31 December 2018. This was confirmed by Minister Gentleman in November 2018 who also advised that the premises would be inspected in January 2019.
YMCA corporate administration was relocated from the Yarralumla Bay premises, which is now called the YMCA Aquatic Recreation Centre, in first half of 2020 and this concludes the matter.