By Callum Cyrus
Hundreds of rallying residents in Bondi Junction demanded a halt to proposed high-rise buildings in the district in a rally last Saturday May 16.
Save West Bondi Junction, the organisers of the rally, estimated over 200 people gathered at Oxford Street in Bondi Junction to listen to speakers including Waverley Labor councillors Paula Masselos and John Wakefield.
Attendees shouted “sack Sally,” in reference to Waverley Council’s Liberal Mayor Sally Betts, as passing motorists honked their horns in support of the protest.
Local residents were unhappy with a proposal from developers Stargate Properties to build two 38-metre towers at the corner of 194-214 Oxford St and 2 Nelson St.
Criticism has centred around the state heritage-listed Centennial Parklands nearby, where activists claim the skyline could be spoiled by any towering developments.
City Hub spoke to Clr Masselos at the protest.
“They’re talking about making this a grand entrance into Bondi Junction, but we’ve got Centennial Park right there. So this really is incompatible with Centennial Park and with the notion of a gateway. We should actually have our park as the gateway, something that is quite beautiful and creates public amenity,” she said.
“The community has come together, they have formed an organisation and this shows that they don’t want this. They have been speaking very loudly for 12 months but council hasn’t listened.”
Stargate’s proposals, still awaiting assessment from the council’s planning officers, would require an increase in height restrictions from 15 metres to 38 metres as well as the removal of heritage protection from four terrace homes.
Height restrictions in the Local Environment Plan can only be altered by the state government, who are also the only body capable of overturning the Council’s decision on review.
West Bondi Junction’s community also voiced concerns about the development’s impact on traffic at the junction between Oxford St and York Road.
Howard Parry-Husbands, Save West Bondi Junction member and Traffic Representative on the Bondi Junction precinct committee, told City Hub “the developer’s analysis suggests that adding 1,090 more people will maintain the level of service.”
“I think that is absurd. It will gridlock Oxford St and York Road all the way back to Paddington. His [the developer’s] own modelling suggests there’ll be hundreds more cars out of Nelson Street, which is a tiny street,” he said.
Clr Wakefield, ex-mayor of Waverley and councillor for Bondi, said it was an “outrageous proposition” and challenged Mayor Betts to stand up to the developers.
“It would never have happened when I was mayor. I pushed developers to my planning department and said ‘if you are within our controls you will be approved, if you’re outside them you will be rejected.’ It is as simple as that,” he told City Hub.
But a spokesperson for the mayor’s office told City Hub that it would be inappropriate to respond until the proposal is looked at by Waverley officers.
The spokesperson added that the Council officers’ assessment “will take the West Oxford Precinct Plan and recent feedback into consideration.”