Danielle Ecuyer of the Bondi Junction Precinct Committee has questioned the legitimacy of community consultations surrounding the future of West Bondi Junction amid fears the Waverley Local Environment Plan (LEP) 2012 is expected to change.
In a Future Cities Collaborative presentation at the East Leagues Club earlier this month, Waverley Mayor Sally Betts announced plans to reinvent Bondi Junction and realise its potential as a sub-regional centre.
Cr Betts confirmed that council will investigate changes to local streetscapes, including traffic and footpath improvements, which will prompt a series of changes to existing LEP regulations.
“To build bike paths and wider pavements, buildings may have to be set back from the [street], which means the LEP will need to change,” Cr Betts told the Bondi View.
Ms Ecuyer expressed concerns that council was merely “trying to tick the boxes” with their design consultations, arguing that community input was being rushed and developer Elia Lias was getting “perceived preferential treatment” over residents.
“The motive of this process is to change the zoning [but] all we see is smoke and mirrors,” she said. “The key question that I keep coming back to is: ‘How can one developer … create a review of seven hectares of Bondi Junction?’” she said.
Ms Ecuyer said plans to change the LEP were first revealed in a series of emails sent to her by Cr Betts on March 31.
“As far as the LEP is concerned I think it may be good if some things were changed,” the first email reads.
“I for one would like an additional lane along York Road so that cars can turn right into Oxford St. This can only happen if there are changes to the LEP.”
Seeking further clarification, Ms Ecuyer wrote to Cr Betts asking why the proposed changes to York Rd could not be made within the existing regulations. Cr Betts sent a nine word reply: “Dear Danielle, The LEP would have to be changed.”
Claims the proposed LEP changes would help secure better traffic management were labelled as “farcical” by councillor Dominic Wy Kanak, who said Cr Betts has “let the cat out of the bag on West Oxford St” and allowed for greater building heights to occur, seeing an increase in property values and development profits.
“The Community have rightly dubbed the Design Charette a ‘Design Charade’,” he said.
“This is not the way public authorities secure public domain improvements as part of site redevelopment. It’s just a very smelly gift to developers.”
At the May 21 Bondi Junction precinct committee meeting, a motion was passed requesting council to provide a series of shadow diagrams to give the community an indication of overshadowing impacts under the new LEP.
Matthew Gain, a representative of the Save West Bondi Junction group, said changes to the LEP could have serious implications for the neighbourhood in terms of the overshadowing of residential premises and a loss of direct sunlight.
“The shadow diagrams on [the council’s] website are only for existing buildings … so we’re not even seeing … what the shadow impacts [would] be if that LEP is changed,” he said.
Mr Gain said the community has continually struggled to voice their concerns regarding West Bondi with council conducting an “incredibly incompetent” consultation process with a feedback website that “wasn’t tested properly”.
“Leswell and Grafton Streets have been consistently left off communications … The community is dead set against increasing height limits in West Oxford St and there’s unanimous support for that,” he said.
“Mayor Betts continues to trumpet community consultation, but it’s community consultation that’s bungled [at] best. This is only another example of council wanting to keep residents in the dark.”
Waverley Council will hold a public briefing for residents on June 18 in the Easts League Club to discuss the future of West Bondi, with a report outlining recommendations to council expected to be prepared in July.