Bondi View

Pressure mounts to halt high rise

Save West Bondi Junction group members rally against the redevelopment plans

Design consultations surrounding the west Oxford Street precinct are “concerning” and community members have been rendered as “silent observers” in the process, community activist Matthew Gain says.

Mr Gain’s ‘Save West Bondi Junction’ community group was formed to ensure any development at west Oxford Street is in accordance with the existing Waverley Local Environment Plan 2012 and does not threaten surrounding heritage sites and historic homes.

The LEP requires building heights not to exceed 9.5 metres on the Waverley Bus Depot site and 15 metres in the area between Oxford and Grafton streets.

Mr Gain, a resident of Leswell Street in Bondi Junction, questioned why Waverley Council would proceed with a design charrette to redevelop west Oxford Street despite no decision being reached regarding the sale of the bus depot.

“The Waverley bus depot makes up around 50 per cent of the designated land under consideration,” he said.

“Why are council funds being used to develop concepts for this state government land that is not even for sale?”

On April 4, representatives from Save West Bondi Junction met with Waverley Mayor Sally Betts and council planning officers in a bid to ensure fair community representation during the design consultation.

Mr Gain said Waverley Council agreed to allow three “suitable” residents to be “passive viewers” of the process, but only after those residents sign a confidentiality agreement.

“We were invited to be participants of the charrette, however we needed to be silenced throughout the process. We couldn’t even share any of the things that were seen,” he said.

“This hardly feels like the open and transparent process the council is espousing. Given those conditions it doesn’t seem that us being involved is going to be productive [but] I am open to discussing this and working out a way forward.”

Of particular concern to the community group is council’s inclusion of a report called the ‘Bondi Junction Urban Design Review’, prepared in 2013 by City Plan Services. It calls for the creation of an “iconic tower” on the site, which Mr Gain says could lead to a large scale redevelopment of the area.

“What we are attempting to do is educate a diverse group of residents in the area [and] create an environment for them to voice their concerns,” he told the Bondi View.

“We are incredibly concerned about the potential of that public asset being sold into private hands which may impact what it’s currently doing: helping to deliver great public transport.”

Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith promised to campaign against the redevelopment and said it would not go ahead.

“I just thought that the whole thing was a pie in the sky and should be dropped,” he said.

“Residents can rest assured that no development will take place on the Waverley Bus depot site, and I will always campaign against moves to overdevelop local communities.”

Labor councillor Paula Masselos said greater attention needed to be given to the Mill Hill heritage conservation area on Spring St that will be impacted by any potential redevelopment.

“We should be fighting very hard to respect and defend the interests of the residents and their amenities,” she said.

Currently, no heritage architects or urban planners have been consulted in the design consultations.

“It’s in a heritage conservation zone. At the moment that’s only an addendum and I think it should be at the front and centre of [the discussions],” Cr Masselos said.

A further community consultation will be held on May 13 from 5:30pm at the Waverley Library Theatrette.

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