By Emily Contador-Kelsall
Bronte residents have expressed concern over the upcoming development of the Bronte RSL.
Developer Winston Langley Burlington has proposed to double the floor space of the RSL and increase the height of the building by half, sparking overdevelopment fears amongst local residents.
Waverley Council recently rejected a proposal by Winston Langley Burlington (WLB) to develop the site, but the NSW Department of Planning is considering overruling the council’s decision.
Last week, community group Save Bronte rallied against the overdevelopment of the RSL and called on Minister Pru Goward to reverse the Department’s decision.
Save Bronte spokesperson Dr Stephen Lightfoot said he was confident the development would be stopped.
“We have confidence in our democracy and we hope we get a good result.”
Dr Lightfoot said the community could not understand how the Department of Planning was looking at overruling what the council and community proposed simply because the developer was unhappy.
“Our group is not anti-development, we want to see redevelopment of the Bronte RSL site, but development to comply with the current Waverley local environment plan.”
A Department of Planning and Environment spokesperson said the department had been open, transparent and followed all of the correct procedures regarding the Bronte RSL site.
“The Department cannot arbitrarily refuse or approve planning proposals without allowing the public to have their say, particularly where there is considerable public interest as is the case with the amended WLB proposal.”
Dr Lightfoot said that the community were extremely disappointed when the Department announced they were supporting the developer’s planning proposal only 24 hours after having announced that they endorsed the Waverley council planning proposal.
“Those two decisions don’t make any sense. They are inconsistent, incoherent decisions.”
“The Department announced that they were supporting the developers plans to double the floor space ratio and increase the height limit to 150% of what is now, which doesn’t make any sense and the community cannot understand how this can possibly happen.”
Bronte resident Cassandra Jordan also expressed disappointment at the lack of consideration for community interests.
“It is shocking that the community has had to be involved in 5 consultations. However, the Save Bronte campaign will be involved in 10 consultations if that is what it takes to ensure the Department of Planning follows due process,” she said.
“The community have been ignored but Save Bronte will not disappear.”
The Department said: “On 4 September this year the Department confirmed its support of amendments to Waverley Council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP), following broad community consultation undertaken by the council.”
“The Department asked Waverley Council to exhibit Winston Langley Burlington’s amended planning proposal to ensure that the public has an opportunity to provide their feedback.”
Waverley Council believes the current development limits should not be exceeded.
“The development standards that currently apply to the site are what Council considers appropriate. These standards reflect the community’s views,” a spokesperson said.
Winston Langley Burlington Director David Hynes referred City Hub to their Bronte RSL Project webpage rather than make comment.
Mr Hynes said the website sets out WLB’s position in relation to key project features: “The plan strives to achieve a balance between financial sustainability, community amenity and the ability of the Bronte RSL to support our veterans and local community groups.”
Don Rowe, president of the NSW RSL state branch said there had been a continued misunderstanding over the RSL’s involvement in the development.
“NSW RSL has continued to be contacted about the development but has nothing to do with the issue. The issue lies with the developer and council.”
Dr Lightfoot said the community and Waverley council had worked together, followed government planning policy, and negotiated rules and vision for the neighbourhood in an attempt to negotiate the scale of the development.
“Now because one party is unhappy with that – the developer – the Department of Planning has stepped in and is looking at overruling what the council and the community have come up with. It’s inconsistent with government policy.”
“Government policy is that council and communities determine the rules of development in their local neighbourhood. That is what we’ve done. Now the department of planning is working against Liberal party government policy, it just does not make any sense.”
Save Bronte has called on Minister Goward to show support for the community and for her government’s local planning policy.
“We would really like her to step in and use her power to dismiss this planning proposal and we call on her to do the right thing at Bronte and for the people of Bronte.”