By Emily Contador-Kelsall
An early planning proposal in Waverley has caused controversy among residents and sparked a debate about the threat of overdevelopment in the eastern suburbs.
The Easts Group recently launched a planning proposal to redevelop and rezone the Waverley Bowling Club into a $100 million residential and commercial centre.
The proposed development includes plans for two ten storey residential towers, a licensed club, function centre, gym, administrative offices, childcare centre and swimming pool.
Council is not expected to make a final decision on the proposal until next year, however community outrage at the proposal has already begun.
Waverley resident Leigh Dryden, an active advocate against Easts’ proposal said Easts did not buy the location with the community’s best interest in mind.
“The community is outraged. This is not a group of old people saying no to development but a collection of the old, young and established families simply saying ‘not on our doorstep’,” she said.
“The streets surrounding the club are already under stress from what you would consider to be normal urban use.”
Paul Pearce, a former mayor of Waverley and former labor member for Coogee said it is important that residents act early in opposing the rezoning of the Waverley bowling club.
“It is important to stop it at council level first; if council rejects the proposal, then that will at least set the local position very clearly,” Mr Pearce said.
Mr Pearce said if council rejects the proposal, Easts would likely approach the state department of planning instead.
Ms Dryden said the community had been aware for some time that the site would be developed, with a previous attempt to develop the site in 2001.
“Easts have acted without our regard and consultation. This proposal is designed to test the strength and morale of the local community.”
“We have been keeping a close eye on this development proposal for quite sometime, we all knew that it would come again one day but not in this sort of magnitude and size.”
Waverley Mayor Sally Betts said it will be a long process but it was council’s intention to notify residents in the surrounding area that the Planning Proposal had been received.
“This planning proposal has only just been lodged at council and has not been assessed by council officers at all.”
The rezoning proposal presents many challenges to the area, which have been felt across Sydney as areas are hit by large developments.
Ms Dryden said the community is already suffering from compounding traffic, parking and pollution issues.
“Imagine the added pressure that 420 car spaces would cause let alone the foot print the additional apartments would cause in what is a single home residential community.”
Mr Pearce said the mayor has created a pro-development atmosphere and now council has to deal with the consequences of this.
“The developers seem to think it is okay to go for broke.”
“We know that the Mayor Betts is in favour of this proposal as she sees no issue in its development,” Ms Dryden said.
Mayor Betts said that without having examined the Easts proposal at all, it is good to see that the bowling facility and rink is being retained and the childcare and learn to swim facilities are included, all of which are greatly needed in Waverley.
“Initially council officers will refer the planning proposal to other departments for comment and then have discussions with the Applicant should any additional information of modifications be suggested.”
“I do not envisage that a report will come to council until sometime in the New Year.”
Ms Dryden said the Liberal members on council had been very silent about the development, which showed the community their “true colours”.
“We are concerned that Waverley Council will wash their hands of this and defer to a higher authority,” she said.
“We as rate payers will ensure that if this is the case that these same people will be voted out of office at the next council elections. They were voted in to represent and protect our interests – that is clearly not happening right now.”
“It would appear that we are all united in stopping such an out of place overdevelopment from taking place.”