City News

Controversial Coogee Bay Hotel development decision deferred

The proposal for upgrades to Coogee Bay Hotel exceeds City of Randwick Council's maximum building height and floor space ratio and has caused concern among Coogee residents. Photo: Urbis.

By EVA BAXTER

A decision on the controversial Coogee Bay Hotel development was deferred until March by the Sydney Eastern City Planning Panel last month due to insufficient information.

The panel said more information was needed regarding the proposed size and bulk and its impact on view corridors and traffic.

The deferral gives the applicant the opportunity to submit amended plans and documentation addressing a range of issues and according to the panel, with “decent” amendments and justification to a greater degree, it could be approvable.

The DA lodged in July last year proposes works costing an estimated $111,710,018 to be carried out on Arden St, Coogee Bay Rd and Vicar St.

Works include demolitions, upgrades to the Coogee Bay Hotel and beer garden including additional hotel accommodation and the construction of a six storey shop top housing development with ground level retail, business premises, a supermarket, three levels of basement parking and 60 residential units.

The proposal is inconsistent with Randwick Council planning controls because it exceeds FSR (floor space ratio) by 19%, and exceeds maximum building height by 94%.

Approximately 10 public speakers voiced objections to the proposal at the panel meeting.

Coogee resident Rona said a fundamental concern to a large part of the community is the impact on views to and from public spaces. She explained how the bulk and height of the proposed development would negatively impact views.

Resident Jessica said the height and size of the proposal would severely impact on the enjoyment of views from the private homes of her family and neighbours.

“It would obliterate highly valued existing water views they currently enjoy from their balcony.

“My family has chosen to live here in Coogee because we felt safe in the knowledge that the 12-metre height limit would protect the views and enjoyment of our homes from overdevelopment,” she said.

Resident Harry started the petition which had 8,494 signatures at time of publication requesting the rejection of the development and that the 12 metre height limit set out in the Randwick Local Environment Plan be upheld.

“I have encountered overwhelming support from our local residents against the height and bulk over the proposed development.

“Their simple response is that it’s just too large and high for our area and will change the foreshore forever and destroy the village feel,” he said.

Resident Mark said he was particularly concerned about the proposed “assault on Coogee’s natural vibe via the removal of five cotton palms or Washington palms […] and several other palms along the southern boundary.

“These palms in environmental aesthetic and heritage terms are equally significant,” he said.

Resident Richard, a former executive with RTA RMS and representative on various local traffic committees said the basic traffic counts were carried out limited to intersections on Coogee Bay Road, were only carried out on a couple of hours on a Friday night and likely impacted by COVID restrictions, and were therefore inadequate.

Resident Marianne said the development will result in the loss of 35 units of accommodation for low-income people.

“This is the sort of accommodation which is not available to people these days in Sydney anymore. If they were starting a fresh now these people will be priced out of Coogee,” she said.

Communicating Coogee

Jackie Parker, representing the applicant, said council did not provide the applicant with the opportunity to respond to comments made during the assessment phase and refine their design as needed to respond to those matters.

She said the design review panel’s former comments were not seen by the applicant until it was placed on the planning panel website with the recommendation for refusal.

Randwick councillor Danny Said said there is a lot more work to be done.

“There needs to be a fair bit more work done on both sides. And yes, you have to do a bit more bloody talking to each other which is one of the requirements I want to put in place,” he said.

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