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Heath Parkes-Hupton, Jake Lapham and Paulina Vidal

NSW government warned years ago derelict Balmain Club site was 'serious fire safety hazard', mayor says

The Inner West Council Mayor is calling for the demolition of the old Balmain Club site. (ABC News)

The state government has been accused of ignoring local council's concerns about the state of the old Balmain Leagues Club after it went up in flames at the weekend.

Mayor of Inner West Council Darcy Byrne said it was time to resolve the decade-long dispute.

"We've known for two years that this is a serious fire safety hazard," he said.

"We've made it clear to the government publicly and privately that this building does need to be demolished, and it's time for the Premier and the Transport Minister to act.

"This eyesore should be demolished now, today, not next week or next month."

Police are urging anyone with information about the fire to come forward.  (ABC News)

The abandoned club in the inner west Sydney suburb of Rozelle was set alight on Saturday in an incident police are treating as "suspicious".

"Witnesses yesterday came forward and said they saw two young males aged between 16 and 18 running from the scene shortly after the fire started," Inspector Darrin Laing from Leichhardt Police Area Command said.

"They had backpacks on, they ran down Victoria Road towards the Iron Cove bridge."

Police carried out an extensive search of the parkland along the waterfront but were unable to find the boys.

The incident carries a charge of arson or malicious damage by fire, Inspector Laing said.

The fate of the iconic club has been at the centre of a long-running debate since the venue was shut in 2010 for a metro station which never eventuated.

Witnesses told police they saw two young males running from the scene. (Twitter: Fire and Rescue NSW)

The site which fronts Victoria Road, Darling Street, and Waterloo Street in Rozelle has been labelled an eyesore by locals and has been targeted by vandals.

Several development plans have been shelved down the years, with the most recent $400 million proposal approved and then halted after Transport for NSW (TfNSW) filed to acquire the site as part of construction for the Western Harbour Tunnel project.

Developers Heworth said that would delay redevelopment — which included a rebuilt of the club and 167 residential apartments — for another seven years.

While Mr Byrne likened it to "having a small mine in the middle of Rozelle".

The Premier says the site needs to be developed properly. (ABC News)

A spokesperson for the company said they had organised extra security at the site following the incident but had previously raised concerns with TfNSW.

"Heworth wrote to TfNSW in March advising that the site should be secured by Transport in order to prevent the public from entering," they said.

"Heworth is yet to receive a response."

They also said they were still "awaiting an offer of compensation" following a valuation report from the NSW Valuer-General.

Transport for NSW said in a statement that they supported any measures taken by the previous owners to ensure the site was "safe and secure" for emergency personnel.

Inspector Laing said the site had been declared safe and crime scene police were investigating.

Inspector Laing says the incident carries a charge of arson or malicious damage by fire. (ABC News)

Earlier on Sunday NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said there had been many challenges for rebuilding the club but it was time for action.

"We need to get moving on it. It's been sitting there for such a long period of time, dormant, and we need decisions made," he said.

"And I've raised that with the planning minister but we need to work closely with the council, in keeping with the local community, to ensure that leagues club is developed in a proper way."

Anyone with information of the incident is asked to contact Glebe Police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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