BY JOHN MOYLE
Rose Bay isn’t typically known as a hot bed for resident activism, but the Rose Bay Residents’ Association have their hands full with ongoing issues surrounding the local marina, the Rose Bay car park, plus the overdevelopment that they say is happening along Old South Head Road.
Bruce Bland, the association’s vice president, has been saying “Rose Bay is Full” for some time now, but new developments in the last six months have really hit the community hard.
“All levels of schooling, public and private are full, our road system was created a century ago and remains unchanged, but vehicular traffic has increased, public transport is largely the same as it was 40 years ago, and we have serious traffic and parking problems,” Bruce Bland said.
The local Rose Bay High School has resorted to demountable buildings to accommodate the number of students presently enrolled.
Traffic along both New South Head Road and Old South Head Road has to not only service Rose Bay, but also traffic from Watson Bay, Dover Heights and nearby Vaucluse.
Each morning, these two main roads are clogged with private and public traffic, with the backup going all the way through to Edgecliff and the CBD.
In the evenings the problem reverses itself.
The majority of the Rose Bay area is under the control of Woollahra Council, but the eastern side of Old South Head Road comes under the auspices of Waverley Council.
“The most basic issue is that Old South Head Road cannot carry the level of traffic needed at peak periods and this impacts badly on both cars and buses,” Waverly Mayor, John Wakefield, said.
During the day, parking within the Rose Bay shopping precincts are also stressed, with the car parks being filled early by vehicles belonging to shop owners and staff, leaving few spaces for actual shoppers.
The car parks also have to service cars belonging to ferry commuters and people using the nearby tennis courts, sailing clubs, children’s park and people wanting to go to the cafes and restaurants along the main roads.
“The lack of social infrastructure means it is very difficult to find any green space or indoor space to hire for any activity such as sports, ballet, Pilates, Zumba, yoga and seniors and children’s activities,” Mr Bland said.
In response to these issues, Woollahra Mayor Peter Cavanagh said “Council agrees that concerns exit regarding planning proposals and congestion and parking in the area, and is addressing these issues through planning proposals to make Rose Bay more liveable for residents and the beneficial for local businesses.”
These issues come on top of the ongoing problem for Rose Bay Beach that sees it being polluted with sewage overflow several times a year due to system overflow, creating health problems for the many swimmers, rowers and sailboarders who regularly use the bay.
As well, Rose Bay residents are looking at another potential development if the rezoning of 42-58 Old South Head Road goes ahead.
A developer has bought options on 10 houses in a line and has expressed plans to build apartments up to three storeys, against the wishes of neighbours who are objecting to loss of views.
Bruce Bland has questioned Woolahra Council’s process of considering the rezoning before Council develops a new Woollahra Housing Strategy.
“Wouldn’t it be much wiser to defer this proposal until the results of the study are known?” he said, adding “The Council’s entire planning process is flawed, because it leads it to rezone and evaluate sites on a piecemeal, site by site basis, and fails to take into account the cumulative effect that continual rezoning and redevelopment has on the associated social and physical infrastructure.”
When City Hub wrote about Rose Bay’s woes in December, the centre of the story was the fate of the old church at the corner of Dover Road and Old South Head Road.
The church, a mix of Parish Gothic with the red brick associations of the Romanesque Revival movement, was built in 1928 by renowned architect Byera Hadley, and its interior contains many wooden features of merit.
At the time residents feared that the Uniting Church had sold the land to developers and that the whole site was under threat of demolition to create apartments and shops.
The church and its hall at the rear had long been a site for community events and services such as the Bo-Peep early child hood centre, ballet and jazzercise classes.
Late last year long term tenants began receiving eviction notices, with all now ceasing activities.
In a surprise move, the Uniting Church pulled the property from sale and is now looking at retaining the church building, while developing the rear of the property.
“The Uniting Church was offered $12 million for the land, and here has been a fair bit of misinformation out there and I must say that the Uniting Church has acted responsibly throughout this process,” Bruce Bland said.
It is understood that Uniting Church is currently working on plans to put before Woollahra Council, hopefully in consultation with the community.
“Council is aware that the Uniting Church is used for community purposes, and early meetings with the Church they indicated that they would like to retain some amount of community space,” Mayor Cavanagh said.
The Uniting Church were contacted for this article but did not respond.