By ALLISON HORE
Last year plans to open a private beach club on Bondi Beach were slammed as elitist and ultimately rejected by the Waverley Council.
But that hasn’t stopped polo entrepreneur, Janek Gazeck, from revealing his vision for the Amalfi Beach Club ahead of lodging of yet another application to council.
In a “teaser” for the development application, to be lodged this week, the club explained how shipping containers would be used to create an “authentic” Italian coastal style facade.
“The Mediterranean design celebrates the heritage of Bondi Beach by paying tribute to our very own Pavilion, also inspired by inter-war Italian architecture, while complimenting the sandstone hues of Bondi’s headlands,” they wrote on their Facebook page.
The 30-metre by 25-metre club would pop-up on the sand through the summer months, when Bondi beach is busiest and operate from Thursdays to Sundays between midday and 9pm. It would accommodate up to 100 patrons per day across 4 sessions.
But the Waverley community hasn’t warmly welcomed previous iterations of Amalfi’s proposal.
In May last year, Amalfi Beach Club lodged a proposal with the Waverley Council to establish the club and “remove a section of the beach from public use for an extended period of time.” Upon review of the application, council officers deemed the planned club unsuitable.
“Our beaches and parks are public open spaces, for the enjoyment of everyone,” the Waverley Council said in a statement at the time.
Waverley Council policies do not allow events on the sand at Bondi in peak periods between December and January. Further, alcohol consumption is prohibited on the beach as mixing drinking with swimming can be a safety issue, particularly in peak seasons.
Accusations of elitism
Not one to back down, Mr. Gazeck put in a second application in October which attracted widespread backlash from the community and attracted accusations of “elitism.” With a price tag of approximately $80 per person for 2 hours, the club would be inaccessible to most.
Over 34,000 people signed a petition against the proposal. A counter petition, in support of the club, received only a few over 1,000 signatures.
Planning minister, Rob Stokes, was among those who expressed opposition to the club. He called the proposal “elitist and un-Australian,” and, as Bondi Beach is Crown Land, he promised to veto the application should it be passed by council.
“Flogging off a bit of Bondi for the so-called beautiful people is one of the ugliest things that could be proposed,” he said.
“Our public spaces and beautiful beaches are to be enjoyed by all – not cordoned off like in the south of France or the United States for only those who can afford it.”
Mr. Gazecki said the club wasn’t elitist and would cater to families who wanted to make a day at the beach easier and more relaxed, he suggested the opposition to his plan was a classic case of Bondi NIMBYism.
He added other events already take place on or near Bondi beach, some of which involve alcohol consumption. He said patrons would be “discouraged” from swimming after drinking and a breathalyser would be installed so they can check their blood-alcohol levels before taking to the water.
Should their application be successful this time around, Amalfi claims it will help Bondi “rebuild its international reputation in a post COVID-19 world.”